Birmingham declares climate emergency

City Commission establishes sustainability committee to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 8, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — The City Commission declared a climate emergency and established an Ad Hoc Environmental Sustainability Committee Jan. 23.

The resolution also directs planning staff to facilitate the rapid development of a greenhouse gas emissions inventory to establish a baseline and develop greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050.

Planning Director Nick Dupuis’ presentation at the Jan. 23 meeting follows his presentation at Birmingham’s long range planning session Jan. 21.

Dupuis begins his presentation by reminding the City Commission that “planning for sustainability has now become a responsibility. It is not just a fun, trendy thing anymore.”

He said they spent several months conducting research that included looking into neighboring and national communities’ sustainability approaches. Specifically, he mentioned Royal Oak, which has had a form of a sustainability body for decades.

Other factors that influenced their consideration for a sustainability board include the Birmingham 2040 master plan, which is still in draft form, and the city’s strategic plan. Both of these acknowledge sustainability and recommend the formation of a board. While the master plan is still being drafted, Dupuis said he expects the sustainability portion to make it through to the final draft.

The plan is for the Ad Hoc Environmental Sustainability Committee to work on specific tasks over 18 months.

“We feel as though that is enough time for us to get two very specific things done: a greenhouse gas emissions inventory to set a baseline, as well as the creation of a sustainability plan,” Dupuis said.

City Manager Tom Markus shared that he was committed to the idea of an ad hoc committee rather than starting a permanent board right away.

“I think the ad hoc approach is a much more stepped process, rather than leaping into something that’s probably beyond our capacity to accomplish,” Markus said at the City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Katie Schafer made the motion to approve this resolution. Schafer had brought the idea of forming a sustainability board to the City Commission on June 13.

“I like the idea of the ad hoc. I don’t like the idea that it might be temporary, because I was on an ad hoc committee that went way beyond 18 months and we are still working through some of that. I hope that the ad hoc committee gets us where we need to go with drafting an ordinance to keep this very conspicuous so that everybody is thinking about it, not just the people who are the city staff who do this day in and day out, but for all of our residents,” Schafer said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Elaine McLain seconded Schafer’s motion to approve the resolution, and the measure passed unanimously.