FCSG Statement on Interim Climate Budget Offers for 2024 (Part 2)

Statement posted on April 29th, 2024

The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has reviewed excerpts of the work session summary memorandum for April 9th of this year, in which staff provides a “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact Summary” (first attachment) for the climate interim budget offers for 2024.  We have combined that information with the values of each budget offer to develop a table that shows the cost-effectiveness in dollars per metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced over the lifetime of each offer (second attachment).  The higher the cost per ton, the less effective the proposed funding is in reducing climate pollution.

The cost-effectiveness of the proposed budget offer ranges from $8 per ton of equivalent carbon dioxide CO2(e) from implementing bicycle infrastructure improvements on LaPorte Avenue to $1,340 per ton CO2(e) for retrofitting exterior lighting at City Recreation Centers.  These values should be compared to the current social cost of CO2(e) of $128 per ton.1  The two bicycle infrastructure improvement offers are great investments from the standpoint of reducing climate pollution.  The two Parks and Recreation offers are terrible investments from that standpoint.

Of course, there are other good reasons to make improvements at City Parks and Recreation facilities than reducing climate pollution.  However, the lion’s share of the new sales tax revenue upon which all the interim budget offers are based is already going to the Parks and Recreation Department.  The new Climate Program revenue should not be treated as a piggy bank for other departments – least of all the Parks and Recreation Department – to use to accomplish their goals without a strong climate justification.

The FCSG urges council to demand that staff remove the two Parks and Recreation interim budget offers from the suite of climate offers.  This will free up $700,000 to spend on offers that will result in more cost-effective reductions in climate pollution.  We note that the offer to inject new capital into the Utilities Epic Loan program is also not very cost-effective. We suggest that that offer either be adjusted to result in greater energy efficiency improvements, or be removed to free up an additional $600,000 to spend on more cost-effective projects.

Finally, we note with satisfaction that the offer to provide grants to offset utility fees for affordable housing development appears to be evolving in a direction that will truly make it “foundational” for reducing climate pollution in the future.  The staff memo states that “Funds will subsidize costs of utility-related development fees for affordable housing projects to move towards all-electric infrastructure” including “additional electrical capacity, EV charging, and on-site renewables.”  The FCSG now believes Council should support this offer, as long as it includes clear requirements for the inclusion of all-electric infrastructure in the housing projects it subsidizes.  The FCSG recommends that council closely scrutinize each offer designated as foundational (highlighted in yellow in the “Cost-Effectiveness” attachment) to be sure that each is truly a “necessary next step to for future GHG reductions.”

 

1 See https://www.epa.gov/environmental-economics/scghg; assume a 2.5% discount rate.

Attachment 1: 9 April Work Session Summary Memo – Attachment #1 GHG Impact Summary

Attachment 2: Cost Effectiveness of 2024 Climate Program Interim Budget Offers

 

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Author: Kevin Cross

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