The city of Charleston joined an organization called Carbon War Room this week, which could help the city find ways to finance initiatives involving energy efficiency and proposed efforts to fight climate change.
Meanwhile, City Council members, who aren't all prepared to declare war on carbon dioxide, were named to the city's new Sustainability Committee, a business-dominated group that will review initiatives proposed in the Green Plan by the city's more environmentally focused Green Committee.
A majority of council members have been hesitant to embrace the Green Committee's report, and the new Sustainability Committee was created as a way of assuring them that the city won't adopt new regulations or spend money to implement the report's suggestions without their consent.
Mayor Joe Riley agreed to create the committee at a recent council meeting, after the council initially refused to apply for a grant aimed at helping the city set up an energy-efficiency program. That program is the keystone of the Green Plan and aims to create a way for residents to borrow funds for energy improvements then repay the money through utility bills offset by the power savings.
The state's electric cooperatives are pursuing a similar plan of their own, as are other cities. Just this Wednesday it was announced that Charleston will join 14 mostly larger cities, including New York and Vancouver, as the initial members the "Green Capital -- Global Challenge" initiative of the Carbon War Room, to help cities find capital for green initiatives.
"It's about trying to attract investment to take some of these green initiatives to a large scale," said Tim Keane, director of the city's Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability.
Riley said the organization also will help cities share ideas and information.
"This is really a wonderful recognition for us to receive," he said. "We are in a list of great cities around the world."
The Carbon War Room is "a nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change," according to a statement from the organization started by Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin companies, and José Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica.
"It's an economic initiative more than anything else," Keane said. "There's a lot of green industry percolating in our region."
City Council members aren't opposed to helping the economy but have been hesitant to declare war on carbon, a greenhouse gas caused by burning fossil fuels that is blamed for global climate change.
That doesn't mean that the six council members whose names were chosen in a random drawing were pleased to join the Sustainability Committee. Councilman Tim Mallard, for example, reacted to his name being drawn Tuesday by making a hand gesture of shooting himself in the head. Others groaned.
The new committee seems assured to take a cool view of some ideas in the Green Plan. There are no environmental groups or scientists on the committee, but there are representatives of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina Electric and Gas, South Carolina Ports Authority, Home Builders Association, and Trident Board of Realtors.
Keane is a non-voting member of the committee. The council members chosen at random were Mallard, Gary White, Kathleen Wilson, William Dudley Gregorie and Louis Waring.