Thursday, January 18, 2007

The cost of figuring it all out

Our city (Kirkland, WA) signed onto the Mayor's initiative to meet the Kyoto protocol - sort of a "local cities do things in spite of the feds" movement. We did this quite a while ago: Kirkland is basically a very green, conservation-oriented city. There was quite a discussion about it yesterday in Exec staff, bringing everybody up to date on what is being done for global warming, or in some cases, just better living. First, I'm quite proud to be part of a city that's doing as much as we are. There's even a groundswell of staff who aren't directly involved in these efforts wanting to participate.

One interesting part is the cost associated with it. Some things will pay for themselves, at least over time (think hybrid cars we've added to our fleet). Some efforts may have an immediate payoff (less energy use means lower bills). But there's a cost to measuring our carbon footprint so we can tell if we're reducing it enough. It's taking a lot of staff time and effort. Kyoto was so long ago, we actually can't accurately measure our 1990 carbon footprint. Public outreach and education will take staff time and money. We need to figure out how to fund or find a full-time coordinator. And people are really tough to add to cities in this post-Tim Eyeman age when our stable sources of income like property tax increase at less than inflation every year.

It's important to figure out, and since people are excited about helping, there's a lot of energy around figuring it out. But it's not going to be easy to fund in the short term. Of course, ignoring it would be more expensive.

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