By Julia Poska
Iowa City will engage community members with their Climate Action Plan at the second and final Community Climate Meeting on the evening of July 11 at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., from 6-8 p.m.
The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the month. It lays out a framework of 35 broad actions the city can take in coming years to meet the City Council’s goal of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, using a 2005 baseline.
“It’s not just something that the city is going to do and make it happen,” said Brenda Nations, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “We really need everybody on board.”
Nations works between the Climate Action Steering Committee — a group of 13 community members and stakeholders — and a team of private consultants hired by the city. Together, they have worked on the plan for approximately 14 months and have nearly met the 2025 target.
The upcoming meeting will start with a presentation by the Climate Steering Committee, overviewing the history, process, and 35 actions of the Climate Action Plan.
Nations said the attendees will then split into discussion groups based on different topic areas — energy, transportation, waste, adaptation, and sustainable lifestyles. Afterwards, attendees will have the chance to make personal pledges to get more involved or make lifestyle changes.
Certain lifestyle changes, such as riding a bike, reduce carbon emissions in Iowa City. However other changes, such as eating less meat, reduce emissions around the country and world.
Nations said even changes that do not factor into the city’s greenhouse-gas inventory, which measures fossil fuels and electricity used within city limits, are still important to the plan because climate change is a global issue.
“It’s really an interesting position to be working in a city and saying these are the things you need to do for climate change, you know, because cities don’t normally tell people what they should eat or not,” she said.
In the end, she said she just wants people to see that they can make a difference.
Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton recognizes that it is sometimes difficult for people to see their own effect.
“I would think from an ordinary individual’s point of view, the challenge of climate change seems so big that it doesn’t matter what you individually do,” he said. “But if we act together, we can achieve a major change in Iowa City.”
He said the council’s goals align with the Paris Accord, from which the U.S. withdrew in June 2017. Throgmorton has signed into affiliations with mayors from around the world to pledge that Iowa City will meet those goals.
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Ingrid Anderson, a Facilities Management environmental-compliance specialist who represents the University of Iowa on the steering committee, said the university has played a major part in reducing the city’s emissions. She said efforts to go coal-free by 2025 have especially had an impact.
“The university is inextricably tied to the city of Iowa City,” she said, noting that the university is Iowa City’s biggest employer.
Anderson said the university students, faculty, and staff who live in the area play a big role in the community and should care about the Climate Action Plan and its goals.
“For this to be a successful effort, it has to be a community-wide effort,” she said.