PARK CITY, Utah — At a Wednesday meeting of Mountain Towns 2030 (MT2030), White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy called in to thank the coalition for their “incredible leadership.”
The climate advisor is a new position in the White House, that was established by President Joe Biden.
MT2030 is a group committed to the goal of reducing local carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030. It was spearheaded two years ago by Park City and Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin.
It primarily consists of other towns that deal with issues similar to Park City, like heavy tourism and a lush natural scene. Members include Moab, Utah, Jackson, Wyoming, and Aspen, Colorado.
Wednesday marked the first meeting of the group since the pandemic hit.
“It changed our towns and it changed the way we socialize and interact as people. That may never go back entirely to normal,” said Park City Mayor Andy Beerman about Covid-19.
“18 months later, we’re starting to get back to normal. But we still have climate change looming out there. That’s another thing to look to in the future that we’re not planning fast enough for.
“If you look at the impacts that hit us during COVID. The ones that come with climate change will be unimaginable. And we won’t get over them in two years. And there’s not going to be a vaccine.
“Looking at rising seas, melting snowpack, persistent drought, wildfire, and climate immigration, or refugees. I don’t know about you, but our town is still getting used to all the COVID refugees from California and Texas. So COVID did teach us a lesson, and it’s time we take notice.”
McCarthy was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama.
“You guys are some of the most productive and creative folks in looking at addressing climate challenges,” she told the MT2030 attendees.
McCarthy said she spent part of Wednesday morning with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg looking at all of the electric vehicles (EVs) on the market. “We have to get them [EVs] up and running and accessible to everybody.”
She also highlighted the need for investment in western water infrastructure and expressed concern about the low Colorado River levels. “This is about building back better, not just tackling climate change,” said in reference to Biden’s policy agenda.
When Beerman asked her what the coalition’s superpower is, McCarthy said “we go there to remember the world we’re fighting for.”
“If we don’t work together and figure out how to make the world accessible… then we’re going to fail to keep up,” she said.
“Part of this isn’t just applying what we know, but being innovative and creative and spending money on research, so that we can actually preserve places like those you live in, and make them accessible to people of all income levels.”
McCarthy will be representing the United States at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of this month. The climate summit will be attended by leaders around the globe, as they look to set new emissions reduction goals.