Ann Arbor Green Fair highlights A2Zero’s carbon neutral initiatives
The city of Ann Arbor hosted its 20th annual Green Fair on Friday to promote its carbon neutral goals, including the A2Zero initiative to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The fair featured booths from eco-friendly local companies, non-profit organizations and A2Zero collaborators from the city.
Dr. Missy Stults, director of the city’s sustainability and innovation office, said she hoped the fair would raise awareness of various nonprofits and companies that are working to make the city sustainable and fair.
“For our team, we really want to make sure people know A2Zero and know how to get involved,” said Stults. “Whether volunteers in the program learn how to access solar and renewable energies (or)… electrify their transportation system. Just make sure people realize that there are many ways to get involved and they know how to become part of a movement. “
A2Zero City employees sponsored a number of sustainable initiatives at the show, including the 10,000 Trees Initiative, an ongoing Returnable Container Pilot Program and the Climate Ambassador Program.
Community engagement specialist Galen Hardy encouraged community members interested in sustainability to join the A2Zero Ambassador Program, a nine-week leadership program that aims to educate residents in the science behind the A2Zero carbon neutrality goals so that they can provide in-depth support residents can offer for sustainable projects and train others.
“They have the opportunity to go out, engage their own networks, and (and) engage their own neighborhoods,” Hardy said. “We pollinate the neighborhoods with information (and) science about climate protection and climate protection strategies.”
Rackham student Sandra Dubaisi, who studies biomedical engineering, said she was unaware of the Ambassador program prior to the show.
“(The Ambassador program) has all of these courses on environmental justice … and to be honest, just hearing how committed people are and how much they care and how we get out of it, I think that’s really nice,” said Dubaisi .
Dentistry student Di Xie said she felt like University of Michigan students were often lost in blisters. After the fair, Xie said she appreciated seeing the Ann Arbor community’s passion for the betterment of the city.
“We spoke to someone who has been involved in environmental justice for over 20 years,” Xie said. “And while it really is a struggle, the indolence of politics is a matter of its own. It’s really incredible, after you’ve been here for so long, to see how the gradual change has slowly built up and building on all of that effort to create something like this. “
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said collaboration between the city and the university is critical to achieving the carbon neutral goals.
“The university has a third of the carbon footprint here in the county,” said Taylor. “The achievement of its goals by the university is therefore absolutely crucial for the achievement of its goals by the city. So we stand by the side of the university, work with the university and try to push each other to do better, because that is our obligation. “
In March, the Commission of the UM Presidents for CO2 Neutrality published its 104-page final report with detailed recommendations for the three UM campuses to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2040, including CO2 offsets to offset greenhouse gas emissions, Use strategies to convert fossil fuels to renewable energies and efforts to increase environmental justice and accountability. University President Mark Schlissel and the Council of Regency approved the plan in May.
Emma Hess, UM alum and owner of BYOC Co., had a stand for her sustainable refill shop during the fair. Hess said that she could not imagine starting a business without sustainability as a consistent value.
“I always wanted to have the earth in the back of my mind, always be aware, because waste is a problem,” says Hess. “While we all generate waste, and I still generate waste to this day, I think we can all take a few steps every day to make a difference.”
Hess said she hoped the fair will give the Ann Arbor community a sense of optimism about sustainable action.
“I hope it gives them hope that we are moving in this direction, doing our best, but also seeing all the opportunities we have on the ground to get involved and make these decisions and put them into action every day “Said Hess. “This is a huge, huge opportunity in reality.”
Julie Roth, Senior Energy Analyst at the Office of Sustainability and Innovations, said she hopes the community will become more enthusiastic in their efforts to achieve the A2Zero goals for carbon neutrality after the show.
“Enthusiasm and understanding that it will be difficult to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, but we know how to do it,” said Roth. “It’s just about having the political will to do what we know we have to. Taking part is a big part of the solution. “
The Daily Staff reporter Vanessa Kiefer can be reached at [email protected]