Shawnee, Roeland Park leaders organizing workshop on addressing climate change at local level

Shawnee city councilmember Lindsey Constance is helping organize the workshop.

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its report in October with the conclusion that humans have until 2030 to stem carbon emissions or face potential climate crisis, Shawnee City Councilmember Lindsey Constance found herself at a loss.

“It took me a couple of days to kind of take it all in,” she said. “As a mom and a teacher, my whole life is about preparing the next generation. So I thought, I can’t just do nothing.”

The something that she decided to do will bring several dozen elected officials from around the Kansas City metro to Prairie Village next week for a workshop on steps local governments can take address climate change. The workshop, “Advancing Climate Solutions through Local, State, and Regional Partnerships,” will be held at Village Presbyterian Church next Saturday, Dec. 8.

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly. Photo credit Holly Cook.

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly teamed up with Constance to organize the event. He said that the failures of national leaders to take meaningful action on climate issues has left the challenge to leaders at the local level.

“Because the federal government has abdicated leadership, American cities will have to lead the way toward sustaining a habitable environment,” Kelly said.

Every local elected official in the Mid-America Regional Council footprint, which covers the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, received an invitation to the event, and Constance said they expect officials from both sides of the state line to attend.

During the workshop, attendees will learn about possible steps to address climate change that have been proposed by the organization Drawdown. And they’ll have the opportunity to discuss potential regional collaborations using the Drawdown solutions.

The organizers noted that while many people see climate change as a bigger threat to coastal areas that are subject to hurricanes and rising sea levels, Kansas City has been identified as facing considerable adverse effects from climate change. The Weather Channel’s Climate Disruption Index put Kansas City fifth among all American cities in terms of impact of climate change.

“No risk from sea-level rise in this city in the middle of the country,” said the Weather Channel of Kansas City in its report. “What’s in play, though, is heat in the form of urban heat islands and extreme drought. The city will see 20 more days above 90 degrees than its rural counterparts…plus more drought in the coming years.”

Constance said such predictions are part of the reason she and Kelly felt compelled to organize the event.

“Now is the time for community leaders to make data-informed decisions and collaborate to advance climate change solutions,” Constance said. “My daughter started kindergarten this fall, and according to the most recent data projections, we have until her senior year in high school to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The urgency has never been greater, and neither has the resolve and dedication of our local and state leaders.”

Elected officials who are interested in attending the event can reserve a spot by contacting Constance here.