Action Alert: Tell Columbus to match the climate plan to the climate science

Last December, the city of Columbus released a draft Climate Action Plan. While we applaud the city for counting its carbon emissions and devising strategies in five areas to lower emissions, the goals do not go far enough. Climate science says we must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 if we want hope for a livable planet. The Columbus draft Climate Action Plan seeks to cut emissions by only 25%.

Now is your chance to tell the city to match the climate plan to the climate science. Simply Living is echoing the calls of Sunrise Columbus, Ohio Youth for Climate Justice, and other groups asking the city to provide more opportunities for public comment about the climate plan on the record at City Council, and to raise the ambition of the plan to cut our carbon emissions in half by 2030 — what the science says we need to do.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Download and read the draft Columbus Climate Action Plan: https://www.columbus.gov/sustainable/cap

  2. Attend our forum on the Columbus Climate Action Plan on Tuesday, March 2, at 7 p.m. Learn more about the plan’s strategies and goals and why they need to be made stronger. Register here: bit.ly/SLclimateplan

  3. Attend the city’s next Climate Action Plan community meeting. These meetings will be announced on the city’s Climate Action Plan web page. Keep checking! https://www.columbus.gov/sustainable/cap

  4. Email elected and appointed officials on the Sunrise contact list.

    Here’s a sample letter, but please personalize to be more effective:

    Dear [NAME],

    My name is [ENTER NAME HERE] and I am writing to you about the city of Columbus draft Climate Action Plan. Columbus is the 14th largest city in the country, and Ohio is the sixth-highest carbon emitting state, so what we do about the climate crisis matters.

    While I am happy to see the city counting its carbon emissions and working on a climate plan to reduce them, I am concerned about this plan for two reasons.

    First, the public comment period has been very short. Few citizens know about the draft plan, and even fewer have commented on it — only 0.00045% of Columbus’s population has provided input. This plan will determine the future health and well-being of everyone in Columbus. Citizens should have multiple chances to provide input in well-publicized hearings on the record in front of City Council.

    Second, I am concerned about the goals in the plan. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a landmark report stating the world must lower carbon emissions 45% by 2030 to have a chance of a livable planet. At the time, Mayor Ginther agreed with this report and vowed to meet these requirements.

    However, the draft Climate Action Plans calls for lowering carbon emissions in Columbus by only 25%. Many of the goals throughout the plan are weak and should be higher. Raising our goals in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, public transportation, walkable and bikable streets, tree canopy, and more would not only clean up our environment but also invest in our own communities and increase equity across our city.

    Currently, the only way citizens can comment on the draft climate plan is to fill out a confusing online form or attend a community meeting. However, there have only been two of these meetings held during work hours. We think the public needs a chance to comment about the draft climate plan at multiple City Council hearings held during non-work hours.

    The announcement of such meetings should be highly visible to citizens across the city. Deliberate efforts should be made to accommodate hard-to-reach populations, such as those without easy access to the internet or those most affected by past, present, and future environmental degradation. Specifically, the city needs to seek input from communities of color, low-income communities, youth, those with environmentally-induced health complications, and communities that have been subject to disproportionate exposure to toxic pollutants in the central Ohio region.

    Therefore I urge you to hold City Council hearings on the draft Climate Action Plan, and to raise the goals within the plan. The climate crisis is the defining challenge of a generation, and the people of Columbus want to be a part of the solution. The city must ensure that the widest array of citizens are able to participate in this process; we demand no less.

    Thank you,
    [YOUR NAME HERE]