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Columbia taking next steps on Climate Action Plan

Columbia city officials say the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan the city council unanimously approved Monday is in its early stages — too early to tell how much it will cost taxpayers and utility users.

The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan aims to reduce emissions by 50 percent in the city’s municipal operations by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050.

Right now, the plan is meant to advise policymakers and no regulations have been presented yet.

Columbia Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe says now that the plan is approved, the first step is forming a community climate commission.

She said there are several options for the committee.

“Those options could be a new commission that advises city council, it could be reworking an existing board or commission that the city council already has or something else entirely,” Buffaloe said.

One of the first things the city hopes to do is put together on online dashboard that shows how Columbia is doing with energy efficiency.

Buffaloe also said there is no plan to raise electric rates to fulfill any of the goals right now. “But we are looking at how can we get people to participate more in the current programs we have to make more energy efficient housing,” she said.

Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer said the costs of methods and technology to reduce emissions are dropping.

“I think the cost of implementation is just going to continue to come down over time so things that are maybe cost prohibitive now may not be cost prohibitive down the road,” Pitzer said.

“It’s becoming increasingly expensive to not respond in any way, the cost of not acting is something that is important to me.”

Pitzer said the city could replace the current sources of electricity for Columbia Water and Light once the contracts are up.

“A lot of renewable energies are already cheaper than traditional sources, and they are continuing to become even cheaper so you know that’s something we can make a big impact on without having any negative impact on rates or may even have a positive impact,” Pitzer said.

The city is still looking for community feedback on the plan. Buffaloe said citizens can give ideas at city council meetings or by emailing

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