Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has spent the past month speaking to community leaders in India and Germany about ways to build sustainable cities while combating climate change.
He was among several local leaders throughout the country who attended the trip as a lead-in to the conference on climate change in Paris, which wrapped up Dec. 11. The U.S. Department of State paid for the trip.
Essentially, Brainard said, he told the story of Carmel.
Since 1996 Brainard has led an effort to create a new downtown in the suburb. While Brainard has championed the redevelopment of the city's urban core as a way to bolster economic development while creating a sense of community, he also believes that creating walkable, dense communities will allow residents to give up or lessen their reliance on cars.
India and Germany are "dealing with a lot of the same growth and infrastructure issues that we are," Brainard said, "and how to finance those issues. I told our story and how we handled it."
Brainard said India was eye-opening. The smog was so thick in cities that he felt as if he was chain-smoking cigarettes.
But he said many local mayors there were interested in Carmel's story.
"Planning departments in India are a new thing," he said. "As a result, they have tremendous traffic congestion. Everyone wants a car, and traditionally most Indians have not had a car. We're trying to help them think about the cost and how to build a grid and some very basic infrastructure."
Brainard, a Republican, recognizes that some in his political party have not embraced the science behind climate change. In all, 97 percent of climate scientists say human activity likely is worsening climate change, according to multiple studies cited by NASA.
But since 2013 Brainard has been one of 26 local government leaders who is on a task force on climate change created by President Barack Obama in 2013.I'm wondering what Brainard told folks in India and Germany about what he's done since he's been in office to lessen Carmel's dependence on automobiles. All the street and highway improvements, particularly those made to Keystone and U.S. 31, have made travel by cars in his city much easier. All of the crony development occurring in downtown Carmel with TIF money has included the construction of publicly-subsidized parking garages to encourage people to drive their cars. Carmel operates no public transportation system of its own. His own city attorney, Doug Haney, was recently called out for billing taxpayers $1.15 to drive less than a half mile in his car from City Hall to a meeting at the Center for Performing Arts less than a half mile away. He obviously doesn't preach reducing carbon emissions to his own city employees. Here's what one India newspaper reported Carmel told local officials there about Carmel's efforts:
During his tenure in the past 20 years, the population of Carmel City witnessed a three-fold increase, according to the Mayor. He said that the effective measures taken by them for cutting down carbon emission, extending tree cover, management of generated waste and parking could be implemented in Thiruvananthapuram also.
Earlier, an average American drove two-hours a day, emitting high amounts of carbon and escalating the fuel. Taking note of this, the civic body decided to set up Traditional Neighbourhood Development (TND) units which had concrete plans and design principles to promote energy conservation while also creating walking and biking communities. A department of community services was setup to encourage Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The city became the first in the US to set up the first municipal biopasteur system, he said.
He pointed out that green cover rose from 40 acres to 800 acres. As part of the tree plantation programme, more than 42,000 trees were planted in the city. Hybrid vehicles that run on battery and gasoline operated engines are being used. To produce electricity, wind power is tapped.
"Solid waste management there is undertaken by private players. The city is divided into five parts and door-to-door carting of waste takes place. Everyday from Monday to Friday, waste is cleared from a particular division is cleared and taken to a landfilling site where the garbage is recycled. Like the utility bills, waste management is also a paid service and each household is charged $8.95 cents per month.
In his reply speech, Mayor V K Prasanth said the city corporation will check the feasibility of carrying out similar projects in the city with the help of the respective committees. Deputy Mayor Rakhi Ravikumar, M A Baby MLA, Andie De Arment of US Consulate and municipal chairpersons were also present.
|Mayor Brainard meeting with local Indian officials (Kaviyoor Santouch/Photo)|