Being an Eco-Municipality
With the completion of the 2005 master plan the community expressed a strong desire to become more sustainable and ecologically friendly in order to safeguard the future. As a result Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices advised the City Council to declare Portsmouth an eco-municipality. The city council voted unanimously to declare Portsmouth an eco-municipality in 2007 and signed a resolution which fully acknowledges Portsmouth's commitment and desire to become more sustainable using the four sustainability principles from The Natural Step by making thoughtful, insightful decisions that will benefit the community as a whole. The four steps are summarized below.
- Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels and extracted underground metals and minerals;
- Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in nature;
- Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining eco-systems; and
- Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently.
As a member of ICLEI (International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives) Portsmouth is part of an association of "cities and countries committed to climate action, clean energy and sustainability." The membership gives the City the opportunity to be helped by ICLEI, and is also recognized on a global scale.
Why Should Portsmouth Be Sustainable?
As a coastal city, Portsmouth is likely to experience climate change first hand. Neighborhoods such as the South End are likely to be hit hard, with sea levels possibly rising up to 6.3 ft. by 2100. Greenhouse gas emissions are also likely to alter the average temperature, and may increase the potential for extreme weather. However, if we commit to minimizing our impact on the environment, for instance reducing greenhouse gas emissions we can in turn minimize how much the environment impacts us.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A significant step the City has taken towards achieving sustainability is its tracking of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the operation of the City government and by the community as a whole. A greenhouse gas emissions study was completed looking at carbon emission in 2006 and that study was done again for 2012. One of the findings in comparing the two studies was that the City government emissions were reduced by 15% between 2006 and 2012. In order to pursue another reduction of 15%, the community could take simple everyday steps in order to help reduce emissions. For instance citizens could turn thermostats down during the winter, install energy efficient windows or even just choose to walk or bike instead of drive. If every person chose to do one of those three things, the city would see changes in the emissions produced, and in turn would help the city as a whole become more sustainable.