Charlottesville community members outline goals for upcoming climate action plan

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 9:37 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As Charlottesville works in the short term to address the long-term threats of climate change, the city wants to hear from you.

The city held a virtual event designed to give anyone and everyone who’s interested a voice as Charlottesville works on its climate action plan.

In three separate Zoom rooms, conversations on climate were conducted. Each room tackled one of the identified threats to the city: changing seasonal patterns, intense storms and flooding, and extreme heat.

“It’s not hard to believe, probably, for some of us who suffered from this summer’s heat,” said Kale Roberts, a senior program officer for ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Once the group reunited at the end, it shared the prevailing themes.

“Public safety came up in all the conversations,” said Susan Elliott, Charlottesville’s climate protection program manager. “Ecological function, transportation, agriculture, and the food supply piece.”

The groups also explored the relationship between climate and housing.

“Charlottesville has a shortage of housing and affordable housing,” Elliott said. “So then if you’re looking at places that are in the flood plain that are still going for above market rate, where do you put these places that aren’t then vulnerable to the flooding aspects?”

Meanwhile, as temperatures rise, the hope is that school buildings will be thought of in the city’s plan.

“[We’re] thinking about the existing school buildings and whether they are properly retrofitted for a problem we’re already seeing and will continue to see in increasing energy demand,” said Jesse Carpentier, also with ICLEI.

One step that’s already being taken is the city’s heat island mapping project. Roberts says that will show which areas need targeted help.

“There was more discussion this time on solutions, so thinking about green infrastructure, especially as it relates to stormwater and the multiple benefits of tree canopy,” he said.

The city says that the climate action plan being developed will have concrete efforts to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.

If you want more information on the process to develop the plan, click here.

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