Government

Linn County aims to engage 'vulnerable communities' in climate plans

New resolution adds to goals set in 2019

Linn County Community Services building in Cedar Rapids. (Gazette file photo)
Linn County Community Services building in Cedar Rapids. (Gazette file photo)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County supervisors have adopted a climate resolution that seeks to engage and prioritize the voices of people in vulnerable communities.

The resolution, approved Wednesday, commits to “accelerated action to address the climate crisis” while collaborating with other governments and community organizations.

In 2019, the supervisors adopted a resolution setting the goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

That resolution committed the county to accelerated actionaddressing climate change, environmental sustainability and resource protection.

It called for reducing methane and black carbon emissions by 35 percent, generating 100 percent of electricity with renewable sources, zeroing-out coal-generated electricity, decreasing industry carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent and increasing the transportation sector’s share of low-emission final energy by 65 percent.

The new resolution furthers Linn County’s commitment to climate action by “identifying target communities whose engagement will be prioritized in Linn County’s climate adaptation process.”

Those communities include residents of color, ones who are low-income, disabled and elderly, rural residents and immigrant and refugee residents, according to a news release.

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An 2018 American Community Survey cited in the resolution said Black residents in Linn County make up 6.1 percent of the population but account for 16.5 percent of the county’s population below the poverty level.

Tamara Marcus, the county’s sustainability program manager, told The Gazette on Thursday that each of the groups is at a severe disadvantage in their ability to respond to natural disasters, like the derecho that tore through Cedar Rapids in August.

“We need to ensure that these communities are given the resources and support to be resilient in the face of future climate disaster events and rebuild in a way that makes all of Linn County stronger,” Marcus said.

Marcus began work in August as the county’s first sustainability program manager.

A climate action plan, she said, needs to be community-driven if it is to work.

“The biggest ask of county residents is to stay engaged with county staff and make their voices heard during the climate adaptation process,” Marcus said.

In January, a survey will be available for the public to give input on the topics, and focus groups are planned for the spring, Marcus said.

The next step for Linn County sustainability is to complete the county’s first-ever greenhouse gas inventory. Marcus said that process started in November, and the goal is to complete the inventory by the end of March.

“The inventory will allow us to assess our current emissions and help us track our carbon emission reduction progress to ensure that we are on track to reach the goals outlined in the 2019 resolution,” Marcus said.

Linn County Sustainability also is organizing town hall events where county staff will answer questions, share updates and provide education to help county residents make informed decisions, Marcus said.

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The full resolution can be accessed through the county’s website.

Comments: (319) 398-8255; gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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