The message on climate change was loud and clear at the workshop for local government leaders: If we wait for the federal and state government to act, we’ll be waiting too long.
“In Missouri and the United States, we are simply running a fool’s errand if we are going to wait for our legislatures to deal with the issues of climate change,” said Kansas City Mo., Mayor Sly James at a workshop Saturday for area government officials on local solutions to address climate change. “We have to be the leaders in this; we cannot wait for our state and federal governments to do this.”
James and his chief environmental officer, Dennis Murphey, shared their “common sense” approach to collaborative climate change reduction efforts, such as energy efficiency and emissions reduction, thus far within Kansas City. For example, Kansas City plans to work with Kansas City Power & Light to procure 100 percent of the city’s power from renewable energy.
Their success stories were some of many shared last weekend by small government leaders at “Advancing Climate Solutions through Local, State, and Regional Partnerships,” a workshop designed to help government leaders find ways to curb the effects of climate change at the local level.
Shawnee councilmember Lindsey Constance and Roeland Park mayor Mike Kelly co-facilitated the event, with the assistance of Helen Nelson and Emily Libla. Nelson and Libla are two Kansas City-area residents affiliated with Drawdown, a nationwide coalition of experts and professionals working to reduce climate change.
Workshop focuses on ‘bridging the gaps’ between local and state governments
The workshop for local government leaders took place Saturday at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, with more than 120 local leaders in the Kansas City metro area in attendance.
Participants also heard about efforts to reverse climate change by other government leaders, including Oliver Kroner, sustainability coordinator with Cincinnati, and Drawdown board member Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, as well as Katherine Kelly, executive director of Cultivate KC.
Senator Tom Hawk of the 22nd District in Kansas also spoke about the importance of reducing Kansans’ carbon footprint as a benefit to the state’s economy — such as Kansas’s water plan, efforts to curb wildfires, plans for more walkability and bikeability, providing broadband across rural parts of the state and consumption of locally produced food.
The Drawdown workshop was the sixth to take place in the Kansas City area. Nelson and Libla led a five-part series of workshops series earlier this year for area residents. Nelson said participants learned about individual efforts to reverse the effects of global warming, how to share solutions with the local community and ideas that could effect policy change.
These workshops are part of the Drawdown Initiative, a series of workshops created and shared in partnership by Drawdown and the Pachamama Alliance, an international organization with roots in the Amazon rainforest that seeks to find sustainable ways of living.
The curriculum from Drawdown is inspired by the book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” by Paul Hawken. In his book, Hawken suggested multiple solutions to reduce the causes of climate change, citing research from dozens of scientists.
Nelson said she went through the first draft of Drawdown’s curriculum earlier this year in the spring. After receiving Drawdown training, she wanted to share what they had learned so far with other people in the Kansas City area.
“Everybody that went through that was so excited; they wanted to share and present the curriculum in their own communities to get the information out to the general public, elected officials, businesses, anybody that would listen,” Nelson said. “It’s not all doom and gloom about climate change and global warming. There are solutions. They are already on the ground working or in the air or out in the middle of the ocean.”