The city and community of Ashland have made a commitment to do our part to address climate change.

A mayor-appointed Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan (ACEAP) ad-hoc committee, consisting of 13 members and representing a broad spectrum of our community, guided the development of the plan. The ad-hoc committee met for 30-plus meetings over 18 months, in which time Cascadia Consulting (the firm hired to develop the plan) and city staff solicited public input during three community forums and in one-on-one expert input meetings.

On March 7, the City Council unanimously adopted the ACEAP to the applause of a multi-generational crowd of grateful Ashlanders. The ACEAP identifies the need for a full-time city staff person to support this process, along with a mayor-appointed commission to oversee its implementation. Furthermore, the ACEAP calls for city councilors to pass an ordinance that codifies our 8 percent greenhouse gas reduction goals. The 8 percent-per-year clock began ticking on New Year’s Day 2017, and achieving this means that we must take action now.

The resultant plan has one of the most aggressive net greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by any city. This is because it based on the best information available — science. Make no mistake, this a challenging goal. It means that after three years we have a 22 percent drop, after five years a 34 percent drop and after 10 years a 57 percent drop. This was chosen because science tells us it is necessary.

We can figure out a way to do it. But we need your help.

We must avoid the worst impacts of climate change. For our children and their children, we need to do our best and meet this goal. This means encouraging and helping everyone in our town to reduce our use of gasoline, natural gas and other forms of fossil fuels, install more solar panels and continue to increase energy efficiency measures in our homes, businesses and rental properties. We must also address the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions embedded in our consumption patterns and we must ask for help from our state and federal government to achieve this. Together we can do this.

Please join us twice a month to strategize ways for us to meet our local greenhouse gas reduction goal. Our first meeting is Wednesday, April 19, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., in room Science 2 at Ashland High School (next to the huge redwood in the commons). Bring great ideas, good will, your personal energy and food to share (It’s a potluck). We will continue to meet the first and third Wednesdays of each month just in case you can’t make our first meeting, so mark the dates in your calendar!

What it really comes down to is for us to take action. Investing time, money and sweat equity will add long-term jobs to our local economy, reduce greenhouse gas pollution and build an adaptive and more resilient community as we take on the inevitable challenges of our changing climate.

Please take the time to orient yourselves with the Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan before the meeting: http://bit.ly/2ov19BG. (Or google Ashland Oregon Climate and Energy Action Plan).

— Jim Hartman has been teaching units on climate change since 1988. James McGinnis works for the U.S. Forest Service in sustainable operations and has been providing presentations on sustainability and climate change since 2006. Both were members of the Ashland Climate and Energy Action Plan Ad-hoc Committee.