To face a global climate challenge, it takes a village (Opinion)

Nick Speal / guest column
Nick Speal

Last year we had the snowiest December on record, followed by the longest winter dry spell. The imperative is clear to Protect Our Winters as we face more extreme weather events.

Sometimes it feels like the global challenge of addressing climate change is out of reach for a small community like South Lake Tahoe. But two of the top sources of emissions — transportation and home heating — sit squarely in the crosshairs of local policy. Our city has set ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and we need a collaborative approach between businesses, governments, and individuals to hit these targets. I’m running for City Council to make good on this commitment.

15 million people visit Lake Tahoe every year and there is a lot we can do to help them get here without a car. South Lake Tahoe commuters can see the real-time location of free electric buses with an app simply called “Transit.” Or use the Lake Link app for free door-to-door service anywhere between Al Tahoe and Kingsbury Grade. If you haven’t used either yet, is there a trip this week where you could try leaving the car at home? As more people use transit, we can justify investing in longer hours and more frequent service. 

Heating our buildings is where we use the most energy, and we see it in our gas bills as heat pours out through outdated insulation. 80% of our homes were built before 1980, so there is a lot to gain from updating to modern building standards. With winter around the corner, investing now in new windows or insulation for the attic will pay off quickly in energy savings.

Rental property owners don’t have the same incentives, where tenants usually pay the utilities. Here the government should step in to encourage upgrades.

As we cut out gas consumption, we can fill the gaps with electricity pledged to come from 100% renewable sources by 2030. We’ll celebrate new projects popping up, from a megawatt solar plant at STPUD, to innovations like biomass facilities that generate power and revenue from forest thinning projects.

I’m excited about the prospect of becoming North America’s most sustainable mountain community, and I’m running for South Lake Tahoe’s City Council to help make it happen.

Nick Speal is an active transportation advocate and is running for City Council in South Lake Tahoe.

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