KC area recognized for climate change efforts

The White House is recognizing Kansas City for environmental efforts, meaning the area will be eligible for future funding opportunities.

Earlier today, the White House and U.S. Department of Energy named the Greater Kansas City region as one of 16 “Climate Action Champion” communities in the United States, according to the Mid-America Regional Council, which applied for the designation in partnership with the city of Kansas City, Missouri; Johnson County, Kansas; and Bridging The Gap.

“Local communities are on the front lines of the climate challenge — and are among the most ambitious in searching for solutions. From deploying more clean energy and setting energy efficiency goals to building more green infrastructure and revising building codes, many cities, towns, and tribal communities have emerged as leaders in the fight against climate change,” the White House blog wrote about the program.

MARC says the award means that the Kansas City region will have access to future funding opportunities that are available specifically for Climate Action Champions, as well as a wide range of technical assistance, including access to renewable energy experts, a peer network, validated climate data, participation in resilience planning exercises and partnerships with federal facilities.

“As a region, it’s imperative that we prepare ourselves for the potential risks associated with a changing climate,” said Tom Jacobs, MARC’s director of environmental programs. “For example, climate change could result in extreme weather that leads to more flooding, winter storms, heat waves or drought. We’re already doing lots of things to address climate change, but we can do more. This designation will help us intensify our focus on these issues and become a more resilient community.”

Over the last decade, MARC says, it has has led a number of initiatives that have positioned the region to be a leader in addressing climate change, energy efficiency and community resilience:

  • The Creating Sustainable Places initiative focuses on creating a more vibrant, connected and green region using an integrated set of social, environmental and economic principles.
  • Transportation Outlook 2040, the region’s long-range transportation plan, includes policy goals related to climate change and environmental stewardship.
  • The region’s Clean Air Action Plan provides a flexible set of strategies voluntarily to protect air quality.
  • Grants from the U.S. Department of Energy have helped update energy-efficient building codes, streamline permitting for solar installations and install energy-efficient street lights in cities across the metro.
  • A Natural Resources Inventory helps local communities incorporate environmental protection and resource conservation into planning.

MARC’s project partners are leading local efforts to address climate change. The city of Kansas City, Missouri adopted a Climate Protection Plan in 2008. Its EnergyWorks KC initiative supported energy audits and energy-efficient retrofits of residential and commercial buildings, and Kansas City is one of 10 cities nationwide selected to participate in the City Energy Project. Johnson County’s efforts include adoption of a policy to ensure green building standards in county facilities and regional leadership on solid waste management and air quality protection efforts. Bridging The Gap works at a grassroots level to educate residents about climate change and promote energy efficiency, particularly for low-income residents. BTG also manages the Heartland Tree Alliance, whose volunteers plant 4,000 trees each year.

The full list of Climate Action Champions is available online.

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