City leaders providing update to Climate Action Plan amid record-breaking heat

Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 10:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - As we’re dealing with record-breaking heat nationwide, Tucson city officials are providing an update on Tucson’s Climate Action Plan in Special Session today.

Mayor Regina Romero says a big focus right now is mitigating the heat.

“If this year tells us anything, it’s that we’re getting hotter and hotter and unfortunately, that is the new normal,” said Romero.

Whether it’s free splash pads or free pools city-wide, leaders say they’ve been working on ways to mitigate our record-breaking heat since March when the climate action plan was put in place.

“As we’re experiencing the hottest days on Earth, we need to invest in resiliency hubs, cooling corridors, cool roofs, shaded bus stops, improving cooling centers and we also need a strong education campaign to prevent heat fatalities,” said Romero.

The city has received more than $80 million in federal funding to adapt to our changing climate. Romero said a lot of that money is coming from the Biden-Harris Administration. She thanked them during the Special Session.

“This administration is investing unprecedented funding for climate action, which is significantly supporting our implementation of the city of Tucson’s Climate Action goals,” said Romero.

Those goals include imposing heat-related rules for outdoor workers in our communities and continuing to plant trees for the Tucson Million Trees initiative. More than 80,000 trees have been planted to provide shade and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Tim Thomure, Deputy City Manager, said another goal is to provide resilience hubs.

“A climate resilience hub is more than just a cooling center. We have those now, we have cooling centers now,” said Thomure. “The next step is to turn them into resilience hubs, which can include things like off-grid power, the ability to charge electric vehicles, or even have electric vehicles charge the building. There’s a lot of things that can play out in a climate resilience hub.”

The next steps are figuring out where those will go and how to implement them here at home.

Immediate returns for our community which we’re doing right now and then long-term strategies so we can adapt to a heating climate,” said Romero.

Dave Smith, Chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, says the focus should be on more urgent issues.

“This is the kind of malarkey that’s got to stop. We have a finite amount of money in this country and we have an infinite amount of problems, and she needs to start solving the day-to-day problems of this city,” said Smith. “If you want to talk about the quality of life, let’s talk about the crime, let’s talk about the homeless, and let’s talk about maintaining our street properly. That’s the main issues this city needs to face.”

There is a climate action team of 16 individuals in place now. A chief resilience officer will be hired soon.

The goal is to be carbon neutral from city operations by 2030 and community-wide by 2045.

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