Answers from Steve Farley


There is no doubt that climate change exists, is human-caused, and that we are on the front lines in the fight for human survival. It’s time we form a battle plan. Even if we were able to phase out the burning of fossil fuels entirely as a world, the damage we have already done to our atmosphere will continue to grow as our climate continues to warm; the only question is by how much. Our obligation as civic leaders is to make sure we have a solid plan to help our community weather the upcoming storm and not only survive, but thrive. 

1.    How do you propose moving Tucson towards zero carbon emissions?

We should become a carbon-neutral city by moving our energy consumption as close to 100% solar as possible. Start with powering SunTran with the sun - new electric buses run 1,000 miles on a single charge and are cheaper to maintain. Charge them with 100% solar and we get a clean, quiet fleet that attracts more riders who will not be burning carbons in their non-electric private vehicles. Assure energy efficiency is a requirement for all public (or public-subsidized) construction, and assure our building codes reflect energy efficiency. Adopt the goals of the Tucson 2030 district. Power Tucson Water’s pumps with solar energy, Push for the solar industry to see us as the innovation capital of sustainability and set up shop here; other high-tech companies like Apple also now require 100% solar electricity in order to consider opening new facilities in a new city.

2.    How should Tucson adapt to a hotter, drier climate that scientists predict for the Southwest?

As Mayor, I will convene U of A scientists and public policy experts to develop a Climate Resiliency Plan that we will put into place as soon as possible to assure our future health and prosperity for everyone in our community. Studies on shelves are of no use to us; we need to take decisive action to preserve our quality of life and our economy as the globe warms. We are a community of passionate, smart, hardworking people who can develop the solutions we need if we are willing to work together.

3.    Adapting to climate change is going to be expensive.  Where do you see that money coming from?

Moving toward a carbon-pricing plan including rebates to residents is a smart move, and if the federal government is not moving, we can reinstitute Governor Napolitano’s Western Climate Initiative in order to have larger regional impact, starting with alliances of cities. Installation of distributed rooftop solar can be encouraged by offering property-tax-increment plans where the cost of solar to the homeowner is amortized over 30 years with payments that are less than the savings that will be realized in the form of cheaper utility bills, saving homeowners money while reducing carbon emissions.

4.    What role do you think the mayor should play in encouraging Arizona and the nation to embrace a zero-emissions policy?

I believe that many of the most creative and effective solutions to climate change can start at a local level and influence upward to other cities, states, and the nation. The Mayor can establish a vision, set goals, and inspire action among all stakeholders in the community. Leading this nation toward carbon pricing is a good step, which can be achieved by developing alliances among cities and states from a local level. Pushing to make Tucson the solar capital of the US is another great step that can create jobs as well. We must power this country not on Texas oil or West Virginia coal, but on Arizona sunshine. 

5.    Would you be interested in participating in a panel discussion on local adaptation strategies and solutions to limit emissions?

Yes. Although what I really want is a task force with local experts and stakeholders that will develop a communitywide climate resiliency plan that will be put into effect, not just filed away.

6.    The City of Tucson passed a resolution unanimously supporting Carbon Fee and Dividend in 2017. Would you endorse a similar bill, HR 763, that is now in Congress?


© Tucson/Oro Valley Chapter Citizens' Climate Lobby 2018