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City of Cedar Rapids Shares Community Climate Action Plan at Open House Event

City of Cedar Rapids Shares Community Climate Action Plan at Open House Event

September 20, 2021

Following several months of planning and public engagement, the City of Cedar Rapids will share its Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) at an open house event on Tuesday, September 21. The event will be held under the main entrance awning of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Public Library from 4–6 p.m. The public will be invited to review details of the CCAP and hear from members of a public advisory committee — which helped to steer the plan — and local organizations recognized for their sustainability leadership. The plan will be presented to City Council for possible adoption at the Council Meeting on September 28.

“Cedar Rapids has first-hand experience with the results of our changing climate. Our community has endured a disproportionate share of extreme climate events,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz. “Major weather events like the Floods of 2008 and 2016, and the derecho in 2020 have come at significant cost and with many opportunities to learn, adapt and improve. Cedar Rapids’ Community Climate Action Plan will advance our work to mitigate climate change and adapt to its increasing consequences.”

The CCAP responds to City Council’s 2020 climate resolution, which called for the community to take urgent action to address climate change. The plan’s goal areas and action items relate directly to the targets of Council’s climate resolution, including significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; resilience to climate hazards; and access to basic needs — including clean air and water, healthy food, good parks and nature, green jobs, and direct connections to City government — for Cedar Rapids’ most vulnerable residents.

The Cedar Rapids community provided extensive input on the plan. Initial engagement launched last October and included virtual introduction sessions, online and in-person surveys translated in several languages, and an interactive Cedar Rapids Climate Story. The interactive story documents Cedar Rapids’ current greenhouse gas conditions, climate hazards, and access to basic needs. The story remains available online. Key findings included:

  • From 2010–2019, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within Cedar Rapids were reduced. The reductions are attributed to increases in renewable energy on the electric grid and efforts by many to reduce their GHG emissions. 2019 GHG emissions were broken down as follows:
    • Industrial properties – 72%,
    • Commercial properties – 10%,
    • Transportation (on-road and off-road, e.g. construction equipment) – 9%,
    • Residential properties – 7%, and
    • Solid waste and wastewater – 2%.
  • Cedar Rapids’ primary climate hazards are:
    • Heat – The number of days over 90 degrees are forecasted to triple by mid-late 21st Century,
    • Heavy Rain – Heavy rainfall events have increased 42% since 1958 and will increase another 40% by mid-late 21st Century, and
    • Major flooding – The Cedar River is rising one inch per decade. Heavy rainfall in the watershed increases chances of flooding.
  • Key findings of the first CCAP public input survey included:
    • Residents identified heat as a primary climate hazard of concern,
    • Residents’ top three climate priorities included:
      • Replanting trees,
      • Increasing renewable energy, and
      • Winterizing homes.

In 2021, Mayor Brad Hart appointed a Community Climate Advisory Committee. The committee began meeting in February to provide equitable community perspective and guide the development of the CCAP. Focus groups — including such stakeholders as small businesses, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, schools, large businesses and local industries — provided additional valuable input on the plan.

Another round of community surveying occurred in June. This survey opportunity included online and in-person events and several Rollin’ Recmobile stops in neighborhood parks. Key findings of this outreach effort included residents’ top priorities for climate action:

  • Healthy food access,
  • Energy-efficient homes, and
  • Replanting trees.

The public input process prioritized equitable engagement, with a particular interest in surveying populations classified as vulnerable by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the second round of surveys, 29% of respondents came from households earning under $25,000 (18% of Cedar Rapids’ households have incomes of less than $25,000), and 28% of respondents identified as non-white (17% of Cedar Rapids residents identify as non-white).

The CCAP is the culmination of this exhaustive community input and data collection. The plan identifies actions that can be taken to achieve the objectives set forth in Council’s climate resolution. The plan’s two key goal areas and 2050 vision statements are:

  • Goal Area 1: Carbon-Free —Cedar Rapids is a carbon-free community. Residents can meet their basic needs within a 15-minute walk. Clean energy provides clean, healthy air. Walking, biking, and busing are popular, while low-emissions public transit and shared-mobility options come frequently.
  • Goal Area 2: Resilient & Accessible — All residents of Cedar Rapids have access to high-quality green space, healthy food, clean air and water, and good, green jobs. Residents and neighborhoods are cohesive and familiar, helping each other out and getting connected to our rich community resources.

Each goal area contains 12 actionable items for a total of 24 actions within CCAP. The action items will be available for the public to review at the Open House event on Tuesday, September 21.

“The Community Climate Action Plan charts a future rich in community, passion and dedication to the greater good. We are proud of this plan and look forward to working alongside everyone in our community to achieve its important goals,” said Pomeranz.

Find additional information about the CCAP and planning process online at www.CityofCR.com/climate.

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