Douglas County commissioners pleased with development of Climate Action Plan thus far

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Douglas County commissioners and county staff discussed the next course of action to address climate change on a local level during a work session at Wednesday’s meeting.  

The Climate Action Plan, a partnered effort between the City of Lawrence and Douglas County governments, aims to incorporate climate action and adaption into future commercial, industrial and residential decisions. 

The Climate Action component of the plan involves short- and longer-term strategies to halt future effects of climate change and shrink the community’s contribution to greenhouse gases, and the Climate Adaptation component aims to arm the community against effects that are already in motion, such as extreme temperatures and increased precipitation.  

Climate change and the local government’s role in addressing it has already been on the minds of many residents and community leaders. Sustainability Director Jasmin Moore said the ideas outlined in the Climate Action Plan stem from local goals outlined in the city and county’s long-term comprehensive plan, as well as regional environmental data and guidance.  

“We are not starting from scratch,” Moore said. “This is intended to build on the existing work that’s been done in the community for decades.”  

Moore said the plan will be formed with three key aspects in mind: environmental impact, extreme weather events, and community engagement. Efforts to engage members of the community ideally would have started in 2020, she said, but those efforts wouldn’t have been as equitable if they’d been done virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The plan is currently in its public input and community conversation stage. Community partners and organizations, such as Douglas County’s Sunrise Project, have already begun outreach, and Moore said efforts are underway to find Climate Ambassadors who can facilitate community conversations. Residents can voice their input through a climate action survey.  

Following community input, the plan will be more concretely formed and brought forward for adoption in spring of 2022, Moore said, ideally in time to influence the city and county’s respective 2023 budgets. 

Moore said the plan will be formed with the community’s most vulnerable groups in mind who are more likely to live in areas that will see the most drastic impacts of climate change, such as low-income households, people of color, and people ages 65 and older.  


“We are going into this planning process with an equity framework,” she said. “We’re going to be asking all along the process — from engagement to design to development of the plan itself — how the communities most impacted by climate change are involved, how we can meet those communities where they are to get their feedback, and how we can prioritize those communities when we think about investment and policy change to maximize our benefits.”  

No action was taken during the work session. Commissioners commended the effort that’s gone into developing the Climate Action Plan’s direction so far, as well as how it takes equity into account. They also stressed the importance of factoring in how affordable housing and increased utility rates might overlap with energy efficiency, and noted how the policy that will be formed after the plan’s adoption should incentivize the community to take climate change seriously. 

“I think we’re gonna have to do quite a bit to help change attitudes when it comes to climate change in order to make the difference that we really have the aspiration to make,” Commissioner Patrick Kelly said. “There are social implications, and I think overcoming them will really be a challenge.”  

Find more information about the Climate Action Plan here

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