Danae Presler

Danae Presler serves as Avondale’s sustainability officer.

The city of Avondale has introduced a new sustainability plan that will take effect in 2022 and implement new strategies to better serve its community.

Avondale is building on its reputation as a “green city” and is jumping into action to stem the worst climate impacts on its residents and business community.

Avondale’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Commission announced a new Community Sustainability Plan at a recent public meeting that will create a long-term vision and pathway for how the community can combat environmental issues and take action to create a sustainable and resilient city. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prioritize durability all while encouraging community input.

In Arizona, climate change is already straining many residents across the Valley, said Danae Presler, Avondale’s sustainability officer. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, these changes can cause heat-related deaths, higher electricity bills and crop losses.

“When we talk about resilience, we’re really focused on how to ensure that both people and nature are prepared for, and can thrive amongst changing conditions and hazard events like heatwaves, drought and wildfire,” Presler said. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures will keep rising toward the critical 1.5-degree Celsius threshold between 2030 and 2052, which shows that climate change is moving faster than our communities are on a global level.

“We are now in unprecedented territory with this warming,” Presler said. “We have seen about 1.1-Celsius warming just to date.”

Community leaders and commissioners can strengthen their response to climate change and make efforts to suppress poverty by understanding the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Along with climate change impacts, the Valley has also seen an influx of insects and an increase in air pollution due primarily to vehicle exhausts.

“The big elephant in the room is that we know climate change poses threats to everything from public health, to infrastructure, to our local economy and ecosystems,” Presler said. “It also calls for scaling up our actions and catalyzing these really innovative ideas to ensure that we have this vibrant future for ourselves, and our children and grandchildren.”

Extreme heat is the No. 1 threat in Arizona and has created vulnerable populations all over. It may be especially hard to escape the heat for those working outdoors or living in low-income households.

“If you’re in a low-income household, you may be choosing between turning down your thermostat or putting food on the table or you may not be able to repair a dysfunctional air conditioning unit,” Presler said. 

The community sustainability plan is a pivotal opportunity to boost innovation and put Avondale in a position to thrive in a zero-carbon, nature-positive environment with hopes that other cities will make their climate commitments and switch over to greener living.

“We have a lot of opportunities to shape what the future looks like in the next 20 to 30 years if we are able to make drastic reductions to our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Presler about emission level goals. “We want to be a part of this solution.”  

Avondale is one of the first cities in the Valley to address the link between public health and the environment. As they continue to push a communitywide effort into 2022, they hope the new sustainability plan will have all hands on deck. With community involvement at its center, Avondale’s Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Commission highly encourage local participation at the Electric Car Guest Drive Event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, and Sunday, Nov. 14, at Avondale Park and Ride, 11401 W. Hilton Way, Avondale.

“It’s so hard to get your arms around it,” said Commission Chair Billy Vaughan. “The whole world has to come together for this, this is a massive initiative.”