On Friday, the city of Ann Arbor hosted its 20th annual Green Fair to promote its carbon neutrality goals, including the A2Zero initiative to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The fair featured stalls from local eco-friendly businesses. environment, non-profit organizations and A2Zero. city employees.
Dr Missy Stults, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability and Innovations, said she hopes the fair will raise awareness of various nonprofits and businesses working to make the city sustainable and fair.
“For our team, we really want to make sure people know A2Zero and know how to engage,” Stults said. “Whether it’s volunteering in the program, learning how to access solar and renewable energy (or)… electrify their transportation system. You just have to make sure that people realize that there are many ways to get involved and that they leave knowing how to be part of a movement. “
A2Zero city collaborators promoted a number of sustainable initiatives at the fair, including the 10,000 trees initiative, one in progress Returnable Container Pilot Program and the Climate Ambassador Program.
Community engagement specialist Galen Hardy encouraged community members interested in sustainability to engage in the A2Zero Ambassador Program, a nine-week leadership program aimed at educating residents on the science behind the goals. of A2Zero’s carbon neutrality, so that they can offer informed support to sustainable projects and educate fellow residents.
“They have the ability to go out, engage their own networks and (and) engage their own neighborhoods,” Hardy said. “What we’re doing is pollinating neighborhoods with information (and) science on climate action and mitigation strategy.”
Rackham student Sandra Dubaisi, who studies biomedical engineering, said she was unfamiliar with the Ambassador program before attending the show.
“(The Ambassador program) has all of these environmental justice courses … and honestly just hearing how involved people are and how much they care and the benefits we get from it, I think it’s really fine, ”Dubaisi said.
Dental student Di Xie said she felt like University of Michigan students were often absorbed in a bubble. After the fair, Xie said she enjoyed feeling the passion of the Ann Arbor community to make the city a better place.
“We were talking to someone who has worked in environmental justice for over 20 years,” Xie said. “And even though it’s really a struggle, the inertia of politics is its own thing apart, it’s really amazing after they’ve been here for so long to see how gradual change has slowly built up and built on all of that effort to create something like this.
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said cooperation between the city and the university is key to achieving carbon neutrality goals.
“The University has a third of carbon production here in the county, ”Taylor said. “Thus, the achievement of its objectives by the University is absolutely essential to the achievement of its objectives by the City. So we stand alongside the University, work with the University, try to push each other to do better because it is our obligation.
In March, the UM President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality released its 104-page final report detailing recommendations for UM’s three campuses to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. The report – which was an accumulation of more than two years of deliberations – includes proposals for using carbon offsets to balance greenhouse gas emissions, strategies for converting fossil fuels into renewable energy, and efforts to to increase environmental justice and accountability, among other recommendations. University president Mark Schlissel and the board approved the plan in May.
Emma Hess, a former UM and owner of BYOC Co., had a stand for its sustainable recharge store during the fair. Hess said she couldn’t imagine starting a business without having sustainability as a constant value.
“I always wanted to have the earth in mind, always to be aware, because waste is a problem,” said Hess. “Although we all create waste, and I still create waste to this day, I think there are a few things we can all (do) (do) every day to make a difference. ”
Hess said she hopes the fair will give the Ann Arbor community a sense of optimism for lasting action opportunities.
“I hope this gives them hope that we are moving in this direction by doing our best, but also seeing all the opportunities we have locally to get involved and make these decisions and implement them every day,” Hess said. “It’s a huge, huge opportunity actually.”
Julie Roth, senior energy analyst at the Office of Sustainability and Innovations, said she hopes the community will become more enthusiastic in their efforts to achieve A2Zero carbon neutrality goals after the fair.
“The enthusiasm and the understanding that it is difficult to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, but we know how to do it,” said Roth. “It’s just about having the political will to be able to do what we know we need to do. Participating in this is a big part of the solution.
Journalist for the daily Vanessa Kiefer can be reached at [email protected].