After several months of preparation, two Frederick County Council members are close to completing a proposed resolution declaring a “climate emergency.”
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) and Councilman Kai Hagen (D) have jointly worked on a draft of that resolution, which attempts to “establish an ad hoc Climate Emergency Mobilization Workgroup,” among other initiatives.
That group would consist of interested members of the local scientific and environmental community, along with county officials. It would meet for a year before making recommendations to council members.
Hagen said he didn’t want to predict what members might make up that work group, but added that it’s worthwhile for it to review climate issues before making recommendations to the County Council.
He added that he and Fitzwater have been working on the proposal since the fall, and thanked her for setting up initial meetings with stakeholders on the issue.
“You don’t want to grab a boilerplate one off the internet. You want to talk to people and work [out] the language, and make it something that works with the values of Frederick County,” Hagen said in response to why the resolution has taken months to draft.
Fitzwater said the resolution is a “natural next step” to language written in the environmental section of Livable Frederick, the county’s master planning document, last September.
It’s not the end of the discussion, but it’s a good start, Fitzwater added.
“Basically, [it’s] just recognizing that the county has a role to play in combating climate change and making sure we have some action steps to bring forward,” she said.
“We aren’t climate scientists, we’re part-time citizen legislators, but we as a county need to make sure we’re making decisions through the lens of climate change, and that’s what I’m hoping to do,” Fitzwater added.
One of the specific objectives in the current draft is county officials will try to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050, and employ all efforts to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere.”
Hagen said those numbers align with targets many climate scientists set not only locally, but on a global scale. Completing tasks related to those numbers — such as forest conservation and expansion, energy use reduction and more electric vehicle use — would be good county practice, even if climate change weren’t a pressing issue, he added.
Fitzwater and Hagen both said they plan to introduce the resolution in February, and plan to hold at least one public hearing.
County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) declined to comment on the proposal, saying she would like to see the final language first.
Council Vice President Michael Blue (R) said he liked the work group aspect of the resolution, but was waiting to hear more details about the resolution from Hagen and Fitzwater.
“I don’t object to it, [but] I don’t support it yet just because I have yet to see even the draft,” Blue said Monday afternoon. “[But] I’m not opposed to the beginning stages of long-term planning.”