Climate Action KC lays out ‘voluntary roadmap’ for battling climate change — 4 ways it impacts Johnson County

The new, 85-page Climate Action KC Plan outlines a number of ways cities, homeowners and organizations can help the Kansas City region get greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. One step is to diversify energy generation by making solar energy more accessible to residents through public policies like net metering. File photo.

Climate Action KC, a regional group co-chaired by Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly and Shawnee City Councilmember Lindsey Constance, could have an impact  in the battle against climate change across the Kansas City metro, including in Johnson County.

The Climate Action KC Plan is what its framers call a “voluntary roadmap” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. It won approval on March 23 by the Mid-America Regional Council.

Mayor Mike Kelly
Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly, who is also the Climate Action KC co-chair alongside Shawnee Councilmember Lindsey Constance, said the resources in the plan — if implemented — will have both environmental and financial returns on investments. File photo.

Kelly said cities, businesses, churches and even neighborhood associations can look at the plan and see “a lot of the good things they could be doing, they’re already doing.”

Many of the items in the plan that could make the Kansas City metro more resilient to a changing climate are good for their own sake, Kelly said, such as high quality buildings, stormwater solutions and sustainable infrastructure.

“Those are all good things that we want to do and that have a return on investment — not just for the environment, but they have a financial return on investment, a quality of life and community health return on investment,” Kelly said.

The 85-page plan offers local entities, including cities, strategies to meet their needs and priorities, while also providing some cohesion on climate change efforts throughout the region.

Here are four actions — that some cities and individuals may already be doing — inside the plan that cities and residents can do on their own:

One way for the region to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by focusing on different modes of transportation and support electric bike or scooter share systems. There are already efforts in place in the region, such as the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District and RideKC Bike partnership that features hybrid “dockless” bikes available at parks across the county, known as hubs. Photo courtesy of RideKC Bike.

Opt for different modes of transportation

Located under the transportation section of the plan, one goal is to make a shift to “affordable, equitable and safe mobility options.”

For residents, this may look like

  • utilizing bike lanes
  • finding walking or biking routes to get around (which can be helped by the BikeWalkKC program)
  • or finding a RideKC bus route that fits your work schedule.

As for cities, the plan recommends creating more connected bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as electric bike and scooter share systems.

While some cities may already have some of these things implemented, another action to achieve this goal is to improve the regional transit system to includes fixed-routes, mobility hubs and more.

Reduce waste — including food waste

Although many people may already be recycling, residents can take advantage of additional recycling efforts such as dropping off glass at purple Ripple Glass bins like the ones found at Mission’s HyVee or Roeland Park’s Aldi location.

Another effort offered by cities like Prairie Village is food composting. That city offers residents discounted rates for curbside composting, but anyone can sign up for curbside compost pickup from either Compost Collective KC or Food Cycle KC.

The Climate Action KC plan also recommends that cities continue to educate residents about reducing waste such as consuming fewer products and purchasing higher quality, longer lasting goods

One way cities can achieve this is by promoting education and advocacy programs such as Bridging the Gap, an organization working to make the Kansas City region more sustainable, according to its website.

Build with energy efficiency, durability in mind

Residents who are renovating or building a new home can consider implementing energy efficient and durable materials throughout the process.

Cities can have an impact with this Climate Action KC Plan goal by evaluating policies and programs to retrofit public housing and engaging with underserved populations for planning and advocacy work.

Diversifying the energy supply

While some Johnson County residents may have already taken the leap and installed solar panels on their homes. But many residents may not have that option since initial installation of solar panels remains a relatively big financial investment. 

This is where cities come in, according to Climate Action KC.

The plan encourages cities to address the financial roadblocks of home solar with policies like virtual net metering, which allows home solar customers to send their surplus energy back to the grid, building up monthly credit on their energy bills.

Another way cities can address diversifying the energy supply is by expanding institutional, industrial and corporate solar energy generation.

Climate Action KC’s plan encourages cities and other entities to achieve this by educating local businesses, schools and governments about solar options.