Public’s help needed to develop a plan for Elkhart to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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The City of Elkhart, through the work of Elkhart Environmental Center staff, and along with broad support and input from city staff and residents, will spend the next several months developing a climate action plan to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions. This plan is being completed alongside eleven communities selected to be a part of Indiana University’s second Resilience Cohort.

The Elkhart Environmental Center began its participation with the 2020 Resilience Cohort in January. As a critical first step in the climate action planning process, the City of Elkhart is conducting a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory to better understand the sectors where the community can achieve emissions reductions. The IU Resilience Cohort will provide guidance and training through the end of December.

Elkhart officials plan to engage local residents and key community stakeholders to incorporate public input for the plan. Public meeting dates and locations are forthcoming, including virtual participation opportunities. These opportunities will be shared on the website and through the city Facebook pages.

Jamison Czarnecki, Supervisor at the Elkhart Environmental Center, says the city has been taking steps forward to make Elkhart more sustainable. “It’s a common understanding that the city is growing and changes are happening, but we need to have a smart growth mentality as we make these changes. This plan is a step in the right direction and will showcase us as a city that thinks about the long term future of its residents and its businesses.”

A climate action plan is a fundamental step for Hoosier cities and towns committed to protecting their communities from heavier rainfalls in spring and winter, more frequent river and flash floods, and more freeze-thaw events that lead to potholes, among other impacts. The finished plan will provide Elkhart with a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The Resilience Cohort was established in 2019 by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge Initiative.

“We are thrilled that Elkhart has decided to take the important step of developing a climate action plan,” said Janet McCabe, ERI Director, “Once adopted, the plan will provide a tailored roadmap to reduce local sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In addition to lowering Elkhart’s climate impact, implementing the plan will lead to community benefits like green jobs, lower utility bills, improved air quality, and a better government bond rating.”

The City of Elkhart anticipates that a draft of the plan will be completed by September 2020. The draft will be submitted to City elected officials for review and consideration in the fall.

For further information or to participate in the climate action plan, go to www.elkhartindiana.org/eec and click the “Climate Action Plan” tab. You can also contact the Elkhart Environmental Center at EECmail@coei.org or by phone at 574-293-5070.

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