Staff Editorial

Cedar Rapids is part of the solution on climate change

People walk during a march from the New Bohemia district to city hall in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. People ma
People walk during a march from the New Bohemia district to city hall in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. People marched in support of a call by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham for a climate crisis declaration. Climate "strikes" took place around the globe Friday in order to draw attention to the earth's changing climate and its effects on humans and the environment. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

We applaud the Cedar Rapids City Council — and the dogged activists who pushed it to action — for approving a climate resolution setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding the use of renewable energy sources in the city.

Efforts led by the Sunrise Movement and other activists persistently, persuasively underscored the need for local action to chip away at a global crisis. Their work with city leaders on the issue led to a vote last week as Council members adopted a resolution calling for reduced carbon and methane emissions, less electricity generated by coal and more power from renewables.

“Sustainability is a fundamental component of strong communities that endure and thrive,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart as he described the climate plan during his State of the City speech.

“The iGreenCR Action Plan is a significant milestone, charting actionable steps we can take to create a meaningful impact today and into the future,” Hart said.

A milestone, to be sure, with many miles to go. Now comes the hard part.

Because the resolution’s goals and targets will be little more than dreams on paper unless the city can bring together businesses and residents to join the fight. City leaders have little power, beyond the city’s own operations, to affect emissions and energy use. They’ll need to forge alliances and foster cooperation to make real progress. That will take a plan.

Over the next six months, according to city Sustainability Coordinator Eric Holthaus, the city is planning a series of climate education events and will work with a climate action planning consultant. Then it will spend a year creating a public climate action advisory committee and forming its climate action plan.

Those are solid first steps. Meanwhile, the biggest job for our elected leaders will be working to sustain climate action as a front-burner local issue. It’s the nature of government that issues come and go as new problems and debates emerge. But City Council members must now make climate concerns part of the equation as they respond to a range of local projects and concerns.

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Stressing the importance of the issue and the need for a local response will be a tough task. There will be resistance. But it’s imperative to try in a city that’s already seen the sort of devastating flooding climate change is making more likely. Cedar Rapids can’t solve a global problem, but it’s time to become part of the solution.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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