More than 200 medical journals have warned that climate change is the greatest threat to public health. According to Trust for America’s Health, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio are some of the most vulnerable and least prepared states for the health effects of climate change.

While climate change is a global issue, local governments end up absorbing many of the costs. Policies and programs to address climate impacts are often most effective at the local level, and more than ever local governments need more capacity to adapt and build resiliency.

Community-level climate work is critical and has resulted in successes. But Greater Cincinnati will need more than its individual jurisdictions acting alone to adapt to heat, flooding and other environmental impacts; protect public health; reduce emissions; and foster an equitable and just transition to more resilient communities. That’s why Green Umbrella has launched a new body of Climate Policy work to facilitate collaboration among regional government leaders.

Together we can adopt proven solutions to improve the quality of life in our communities, the resilience of our infrastructure, and the predictability of budgets. By working with individual communities and fostering a regional peer learning network, we will create a more resilient and prepared Greater Cincinnati region.

Goal #1: Build Capacity in Public Sector to Measure and Reduce Climate Footprint

Green Umbrella is partnering with Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute to expand its Indiana Resilience Cohort into Ohio and Kentucky. The program leads city, town, township and county governments through the process of measuring, managing, and tracking their greenhouse gas emissions, creating climate action plans, and implementing actions. Participants join a cohort of peers and each jurisdiction receives one-on-one guidance, attends cohort training webinars hosted by Green Umbrella, the Environmental Resilience Institute, and ICLEI USA, and can apply for additional staff capacity by hosting a 10-week summer intern.

Green Umbrella is currently securing funds to launch the Resilience Cohort expansion, with the goal of recruiting local governments in 2022.

Since 2019, the Indiana Resilience Cohort program has supported 39 local government community-scale greenhouse gas inventories and 13 climate action plans to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. These local governments are on a path toward reducing 17.6 million tons of CO2e – the equivalent to removing emissions from 45 coal-fired power plants for one year.

Goal #3: Center Equity and Community Voice in Climate Planning Processes

Green Umbrella has partnered with Groundwork Ohio River Valley on their Climate Safe program, which explores the relationship between historical race-based housing segregation and the current and predicted impacts of climate change. Along with the City of Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability, the team worked to develop an equitable engagement process that centers the voice and priorities of historically underserved communities in climate planning. The process was piloted in Lower Price Hill in Spring 2021; the next round will take place in Bond Hill/Roselawn in Winter 2021. Read a recent blog post on this work from the National League of Cities.

Next steps and funding priorities include working to expand the engagement opportunities into more Cincinnati neighborhoods and regionally to additional tri-state jurisdictions.

Goal #2: Enhance Local Alignment and Deepen Regional Coordination

The Greater Cincinnati Regional Climate Collaborative will serve as a network for public agencies to better understand regional climate impacts on their communities and advance adaptation and mitigation solutions. The Collaborative will facilitate peer sharing, highlight best practices among local governments, develop opportunities for regional collaboration and program implementation, and help secure adaptation funding and resources. Network partners will also include academia, non-profit organizations, business and community leaders. Green Umbrella recently led regional participation in a pilot program--Regional Collaboration for Equitable Climate Solutions--led by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, exploring how to center equity in the next generation of climate collaboratives.

Green Umbrella plans to launch the Collaborative in 2022, and next steps include convening conversations to lay the groundwork for creating a shared vision.

Goal #4: Educate and Engage Local Candidates and Elected Officials on Climate Issues

For candidates and electeds, Green Umbrella is committed to 1) raising their awareness of climate, environmental justice, and sustainability issues and 2) fostering opportunities for them to create and act upon climate platforms. To this end, in April 2021 Green Umbrella partnered with Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund to host an educational event about the Green Cincinnati Plan. Candidates were then provided the opportunity to work directly with OEC policy experts to develop their platforms in preparation for a fall pitch event. In October 2021 Green Umbrella hosted a Local Candidate Climate and Sustainability Forum, where both mayoral and 18 council candidates attended; shout out to our co-hosts Action Tank, Cincinnati NAACP, Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, and Groundwork Ohio River Valley. Check out coverage of the event here.

Next steps and funding priorities include continuing this engagement in regional jurisdictions

Green Umbrella is seeking funding to:

  • Expand the Indiana Resilience Cohort into Ohio and Kentucky in partnership with Environmental Resilience Institute;
  • Launch the Greater Cincinnati Regional Climate Collaborative;
  • Extend Climate Safe to regional jurisdictions in partnership with Groundwork Ohio River Valley;
  • Engage regional elected officials and local candidates on climate issues;
  • Foster engaged participation from governments, non-profits, community and business leaders, and academia.

Contact Green Umbrella’s Climate Policy Lead, Savannah Sullivan, to learn more:
Twitter: @savsullivan)

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