A2Zero – Ann Arbor’s Living Carbon Neutrality Plan – Revised

Climate change is real, and our community will feel its effects. I believe that government at every level has a role to play in solving this complex problem. However, I opposed the original A2Zero Plan because it contained language calling for the elimination of the zoning protections provided to Single-Family Residential District neighborhoods.

I support the revised A2Zero Plan that was ultimately adopted by council because it attempts to address climate change, but it no longer includes the sweeping land use changes that would have been disruptive to our neighborhoods.

I view the revised A2Zero Plan as an aspirational document. If we can get buy-in from key stakeholders and outside funding to help enact it, the revised plan provides a framework that can be used to move us toward our carbon neutrality goals.

I’ve heard a number of residents and even some stakeholders raise very specific concerns about this plan which makes many believe that we may encounter a number of roadblocks along our journey towards carbon neutrality.

Our city, several key stakeholders, like AAATA, and other local partners, like the University of Michigan, will experience budget shortfalls both this year and next year due to the financial crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state budget will have significant shortfalls as well. It’s unlikely that our federal government will step up and do what’s needed to return people, businesses and state and local institutions and governments to their pre-COVID-19 financial conditions. This situation makes it unlikely that there will be enough funding to support the investments that will be needed to accomplish these goals and still be able to provide essential services to our residents and to their customers. Perhaps we should advocate for a stimulus package that would include funding to assist us in transitioning to a more carbon-free community.

There may also be a lack of buy-in from key stakeholders and a continuation of state and federal legislative barriers which would imperil the current plan. A representative from DTE has already expressed concerns about certain aspects of the plan, and laws will need to be changed at the state and federal levels to accomplish our stated goals. Given the current composition of government, this is very unlikely, but we should certainly explore our options.

We should explore opportunities to try to obtain policy changes that are acceptable to all stakeholders and funding from the federal government and/or others to support these efforts. I am willing to explore these and other options. We will need to revisit the plan and amend it as needed to account for on-going developments.