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Jul 28

Voluntary flexible framework meant to help draw down greenhouse gases and improve quality of life

Posted on July 28, 2021 at 2:35 PM by Becky Burnside

With its own long history of environmental stewardship efforts, JCPRD’s governing body recently endorsed the Kansas City Regional Climate Action Plan.

During its July 21 regular monthly meeting, the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners approved a resolution endorsing the plan.

“The Board unanimously approved the resolution which speaks to their support and commitment for the regional climate action plan,” said JCPRD Development Director Erika Seward. “By doing so, JCPRD is stepping forward alongside a collaborative network of cities, elected representatives, and others working together to achieve an ambitious and urgent goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

The plan was developed by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in partnership with Climate Action KC (CAKC), a regional nonprofit formed to promote strategies and solutions to draw down greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic opportunity and quality of life. The plan contains a regional emissions inventory as well as climate risk and vulnerability assessments and is meant to create a flexible, voluntary framework to guide and align local action in ways that make a difference for the Kansas City region. The plan is meant to serve ten counties and 123 communities with a total population of 2.14 million in Kansas and Missouri. 

As part of its endorsement, the JCPRD board resolved to review and implement, as appropriate, the solutions and strategies of the plan. 

“In many ways, JCPRD has been leading the way with climate mitigation and adaptation work,” Seward said. “JCPRD has long demonstrated leadership through a range of activities including land conservation, trail connectivity, invasive species removal, native planting, and the restoration of prairies and riparian corridors. The plan provides a flexible roadmap to attract investment, create jobs, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunity and community wealth over time.”

Prairie

With an overall goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next 30 years, success of the plan hinges on leadership and high levels of voluntary collaboration from all parts of the community. Key climate mitigation strategies to achieve this are: investing in renewable energy and decreasing fossil fuel use; increasing energy efficiency of all buildings; transitioning to electric vehicles while increasing walking, biking, transit, and sustainable development; and sequestering carbon in the soil through sustainable land stewardship. Key climate adaptation strategies in the plan include: conserving and restoring green infrastructure and expanding local food systems; creating walkable 15-minute neighborhoods to support healthy active living and social connectivity; developing livable wage green jobs through innovative partnerships; and supporting a circular economy to reduce waste and raise demand for reused and recycled materials.

“There are very clear goals outlined in the climate action framework that align with (JCPRD) board-approved strategic planning and implementation documents like the JCPRD Legacy Plan (adopted in 2015) and the Natural Resource Management Plan (adopted in 2019). These roadmaps chart the course of JCPRD, informing what and how decisions are made, including the investment of time, money, and resources.” 

Area residents have an opportunity to get involved in these regional climate efforts by becoming climate action plan ambassadors like Seward. 

“Ambassadors from across the region meet semi-regularly and talk about ways to introduce the plan and provide an education on simple ways to act. Ambassadors are going out and presenting at chamber and city council meetings, with church groups and rotary clubs, and others that are open and willing to learn about improving the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

To learn more, go to kcmetroclimateplan.org, and sign up by clicking on the link in the “Stay Informed” box at the bottom of the page. Even if you’re not interested in being an ambassador, the page is a great way to become familiar with the plan.

“Everyone deserves access to clean water and clean air,” Seward said. “Climate action is action towards a just and equitable future for each and every one of us. JCPRD has proven its commitment to this cause for decades and is excited to work with Mid-America Regional Council and this growing change network to advocate for improving and sustaining the health of our watersheds for generations to come.” 

Owen in a prairie