Eleven Indiana cities will be developing plans in 2020 to address greenhouse gas emissions as part of the next phase of an Indiana University program.
Building on the success of the 2019 Resilience Cohort program, local governments will be working with IU students and staff to identify actions, policies, and programs to reduce emissions, an important step toward building community resilience against climate change.
The Resilience Cohort program matches Hoosier communities with the tools, training, and expertise needed to measure and reduce local greenhouse gas emissions. The program launched last summer through a partnership between Sustain IU and the Environmental Resilience Institute, part of the IU Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative.
In 2020, cohort members will be developing greenhouse gas reduction plans, also known as climate action plans, that outline specific activities cities and their residents will undertake to achieve reduced emissions targets. The plans will then be presented to elected officials for review and approval by the end of the year. Program participants in 2020 include Carmel, Elkhart, Evansville, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Gary, Goshen, Michigan City, Richmond, West Lafayette, and Zionsville.
“We are thrilled that so many cities in the state have decided to take the important step of developing a climate action plan,” said ERI Director Janet McCabe. “Once adopted, these plans will provide a tailored roadmap for each community to address local sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In addition to lowering a community’s climate impact, implementing these plans will lead to immediate community benefits like green jobs, lower utility bills, and improved air quality. Preparing a plan could even help communities with their bond ratings as ratings agencies start to take into account cities’ vulnerabilities to climate impacts.”
As part of the program, eight of the cities will receive IU student externs through Sustain IU’s Indiana Sustainability Development Program. The summer externs will help local governments coordinate community input and prioritize reduction actions.
Cohort participants gain access to technical resources and training through ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, a nonprofit that specializes in helping local governments with emissions management and climate action. The training will help each city set goals, forecast multiple greenhouse gas scenarios, and engage community stakeholders prior to drafting a climate action plan.
“Partnering with IU and its students has helped ICLEI to accelerate our work with local governments across the state,” said ICLEI Executive Director Angie Fyfe. “Many communities are committed to climate action, but under-resourced, limiting their ability to move forward. The Resilience Cohorts are an excellent combination of technical and local know-how. This hands-on approach enables cities and towns to succeed in ways they otherwise could not.”
Last year, 14 local governments, representing Indiana cities, towns, and counties joined the 2019 Resilience Cohort program and completed greenhouse gas inventories for the first time. Prior to that, Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend were the only Indiana cities to have conducted greenhouse gas inventories of their own. Now local governments representing 35 percent of the state’s population have completed inventories using recent data. That list includes Fort Wayne, which is taking the next step and developing a climate action plan in 2020.
“Because of this program, the City of Fort Wayne completed a greenhouse gas inventory last summer,” said Doug Fasick, the City’s senior program manager for energy engineering and sustainability services. “Now we’re beginning a process to work with the public to identify ways to reduce those emissions. Under Mayor Tom Henry’s leadership, we’re committed to doing more with renewable energy to help make a lasting difference for residents, neighborhoods, and businesses in Fort Wayne.”
Funding for the 2020 Resilience Cohort program is provided by the McKinney Family Foundation and the Duke Energy Foundation.
About the Prepared for Environmental Change Initiative The Indiana University Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative brings together a broad, bipartisan coalition of government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to help Indiana better prepare for the challenges that environmental changes bring to our economy, health and livelihood. Announced in May 2017, Prepared for Environmental Change is working to deliver tailored and actionable solutions to communities across the state of Indiana.
About ICLEI USA. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading global network of more than 1,750 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future. ICLEI USA is the lead author, supported by groups of city and carbon accounting experts from various fields, in the development of industry standards for local government GHG emissions accounting. Along with its ClearPath emissions management tool, the development of the U.S. Community Protocol, the Local Government Operations Protocol, and the Recycling and Composting Protocol positions ICLEI USA firmly as the experts in local government carbon accounting. ICLEI continues to provide technical guidance for the application of the protocols to cities and practitioners around the world.