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Flagstaff City Council Backs Climate Emergency Declaration

City of Flagstaff

The Flagstaff City Council Tuesday night unanimously voted to move forward in declaring a climate emergency. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the resolution would commit the city to step up efforts to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The resolution sets a goal of making Flagstaff carbon neutral by 2030 and gives more authority to the city’s Sustainability Program. It would also revise the goals of the Flagstaff Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to align with last year’s United Nations report on global carbon emissions.

Community and council members spoke for nearly three hours at the meeting about the local and global threats of climate change. 

"I urge you to act now, not when we are in the middle of a devastating disaster—a devastating natural disaster that can be prevented right now," said Flagstaff resident and Navajo Nation tribal member Nikki Cooley as she addressed the council.

The resolution also prioritizes vulnerable and disadvantaged communities that may already be experiencing the effects of climate change locally.

The declaration will now be sent to city staff to craft a final version for a council vote. If passed, Flagstaff would become the first Arizona city to declare a climate emergency. Seventy-six U.S. towns and cities have passed similar measures along with more than 1,300 worldwide.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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