Today’s N&R article actually makes Greensboro’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels sound pretty harmless:

It’s unclear how much additional effort would be required to meet the 1990 goal or what extra burden, if any, it would put on the average resident.

The first step is taking a citywide inventory, trying to figure out how much pollution the city emits now and how much it emitted in 1990.

Neither number will be precise, said Jeryl Covington, the city’s environmental services director. “There’s no way you can get 100 percent accuracy in something like that,” she said, adding that a well-informed “guesstimate” will be the result.

The council set a May 2008 target date for completing the inventory.

Although the vote was unanimous, not all council members support the initiative.

It is basically a “feel-good” measure that won’t change anything, Councilman Tom Phillips said, partly because it’s nonbinding and partly because the city already has done so much to cut pollution.

“And we would continue to do that wherever it makes sense and can be done economically,” said Phillips, who was absent the day of the vote.

Still bothersome, though, is council member Florence Gatten’s wishful comment that the carbon inventory would be completed just in time for the 2008-2009 budget. I can’t imagine why that’s significant for any reason other than the city will use the inventory as an excuse to spend money.

The good news is Gatten won’t be on the council in 2008; the bad news is Phillips won’t be, either. So the economics of this deal depends on who’s sitting on council in ’08.