Sister City Collaboration

Borough of Carlisle collaborates with sister-city, City of Carlisle (Cumbria, U.K),
on Climate Action Planning

Over twenty councilors, municipal staff, and climate action commission members from Carlisle Borough, Pa, and City of Carlisle (Cumbria), U.K. met virtually on November 12 to reinvigorate the historic bonds of the two municipalities. At the top of the agenda was a discussion of how each local government was addressing climate change.

“In view of the fact that we are both in the middle of working on climate action plans, this seemed like an obvious place to start”, said Carlisle (PA) councilor, Joel Hicks, who also Chairs the Climate Action Commission. “What’s truly remarkable is how similar our challenges are. For instance, the transportation sector accounts for 29.7 percent of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 28.3 percent of theirs. Across the Industrial and Commercial sector, same thing, 47.5 percent versus 47.1 percent”.

Carlisle (PA) Mayor, Tim Scott, and his counterpart, Councilor John Mallinson, Leader of the City Council, introduced their officials and staff who will continue to be active in the intercity dialogue, including, from Carlisle, PA, Susan Armstrong (Borough Manager), Sean Shultz (Deputy Mayor) Owen Snyder (Assistant Borough Manager), Jeff Stuby (Councilor), Brenda Landis (Councilor), Deb Fulham-Winston (Councilor), Sara Markowitz (Community Engagement Team Lead, Climate Action Commission), and Karla Farrell (Zoning Team Lead, Climate Action Commission).

The population of the City of Carlisle (UK) (at over 108,000) is slightly more than five times that of Carlisle, Pa, with a city council representation of 37, 17 from the Conservative Party, 13 from Labour, 4 Independent, and 3 from other parties (incl. Lib-Dem and Green).

“We had strong interest group pressure to go carbon neutral by 2030 but are in the process of developing a more achievable target of 2037,” said Carlisle (UK) Councilor Nigel Christian, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport. He noted that severe weather, including two large flooding events tipped the scale to move climate action forward locally. “It wasn’t the actual climate science, but rather weather events that impressed the seriousness of the crisis locally.” This 2037 target is still much more aggressive than Britain’s “net zero” GHG target of 2050.

Carlisle, PA’s target reflects the Commonwealth’s goal of 26-28 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. “The U.K. is much more committed to reducing their carbon footprint than the U.S. For instance, their targets are relative to 1990 levels, while ours are still pegged to 2005, a peak emission year for the globe”, says Hicks. “We learned that Carlisle (UK) is also accounting for the carbon footprint of the goods and services they consume, such as from the transportation of imported goods. That’s impressive and something we should strive to replicate.”

The two governments finished their discussion with an agreement to reconvene as a body semi-annually with smaller working groups meeting more frequently. “We are looking at putting together subgroups focused on transportation, community outreach, economic growth, and energy, working closely with Jane Meek, the City of Carlisle (UK) Corporate Director of Economic Development.”

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