Climate changes impact all of our lives, but our most vulnerable residents are already disproportionately affected by the extreme heat and increased precipitation. For these residents, the results of climate change mean seeking shelter, mounting utility bills and further strain upon preexisting mobility obstacles.
The world recently received an important wake-up call with the release of the special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To avoid irreversible climate disruption, we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.
In the past 65 years, Columbus’ climate has warmed faster than the national and global climate. Columbus also has the 8th most intense Urban Heat Island. This means that on average, it is 4.4 degrees F hotter in the City than in nearby rural areas and can get up to 24.0 degrees F hotter on some days.
If we don’t act now, our most vulnerable residents will suffer the most.
The wellbeing and prosperity of our community is inextricably linked to solving the climate crisis. This presents a great opportunity to our generation to innovate. As America’s first Smart City, Columbus is no stranger to innovation. We are working to decarbonize our power supply and change our transportation sector by increasing electric vehicle adoption and facilitating alternate transit modes through the Smart Columbus Electrification Plan. With our partner organizations, we are investing in building efficiency and renewable energy so that businesses can operate efficiently and homes are not just affordable to buy—but that are affordable to live in. Through the Columbus Food Action Plan, we are encouraging the production of local food and, by collaborating with SWACO, we are helping to develop a comprehensive food waste initiative.
Last March at the GreenSpotLight awards, I announced our new movement, Sustainable Columbus, that embeds sustainability planning in every aspect of our City’s work so that we can continue to grow strong neighborhoods for all Columbus residents.
Please join me in working toward a carbon-neutral future. I encourage your household to join Columbus GreenSpot and commit to conserving energy, conserving water, greening transportation and reducing waste.
I also encourage businesses to join GreenSpot by adopting sustainable actions like changing lights to LEDs and installing energy efficient boilers, insulation and windows. More than 17,000 GreenSpot members have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 million pounds.
Take advantage of these programs:
• Columbus Division of Power EcoSmart option (invests in renewable energy). https://www.columbus.gov/utilities/Power/EcoSmartCustomerChoice/
• Green Columbus Fund (assists in offsetting the cost of LEED certification): https://www.columbus.gov/development/economic-development/Green—-Energy-Efficiency-Programs/
• AEP Ohio Energy efficiency program: https://www.aepohio.com/save/residential/programs/
• Columbia Gas of Ohio energy efficiency programs: https://www.columbiagasohio.com/ways-to-save/simple-energy-solutions
Join the Sustainable Columbus movement so we can remain America’s Opportunity City for generations to come.
Ginther is Mayor of Columbus