Iowa City mayor: City Council won’t wait to find climate-change solutions

Iowa City asked for the public’s opinion on different climate-action strategies at a meeting on Thursday.


FILE – Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton speaks during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa City is seeking the community’s opinion on strategies to make the city a safer, greener place.

The Iowa City Climate Action Steering Committee held a meeting on Thursday to receive input from citizens about what strategies will be put in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. The committee began meeting in June to create strategies, and now the community is helping to refine them and give a few ideas of their own.

“We in Iowa City … could tell ourselves that there’s nothing we can do about [the climate], that we should take a free ride and let the state, federal government, and other countries fix the problem,” Mayor Jim Throgmorton said. “The City Council of Iowa City does not want to wait for this hypothetical free ride.”

The goal of the meeting was to get people involved in a project that would directly affect them, Iowa City sustainability coordinator Brenda Nations said.

“We’re just wanting to see if people feel like these strategies are the right ones for Iowa City, because we want to be specific to our community for people that are willing to undertake it,” Nations said.

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The Climate Action Plan focuses mainly on reducing greenhouse gases, with specific goals for the upcoming years. The city has pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.

Nations said she feels confident about meeting the 2025 goal, because MidAmerican Energy is moving toward wind energy and the University of Iowa Power Plant has pledged to move completely away from coal by 2025. But the 2050 goal is a little more daunting.

“There’s no magic bullet; it’s going to take a variety of things to reach these reductions,” she said.

The meeting was set up like an open house in which people walked around to different stations to hear about specific strategies in five categories: energy, transportation, waste, adaptation, and other.

People then marked which strategies they thought were important to the city and whether they could play a role in it. People were also allowed to write down any strategies the committee may have not thought of.

“That’s why we need the community to come in and give us new ideas, like different transportation and different things that we may have not even thought about yet,” Nations said.

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UI junior Megan Powers said local environmental plans are where real positive impacts are made.

“I think that the small-scale is where things change, so if we can get better practices at the local community level, that’s what makes a difference in the long run,” she said.

The plan will also include strategies for adapting to the damage caused by greenhouse gases and an equity portion to see how the strategies will affect each part of the community. The committee will send out a community-wide survey in the next few months, then make a first draft in February.

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