It’s all about the Green!

Johanna Pounds

This week’s guest columnist for the buzz feature is Northeast News Editorial Assistant Johanna Pounds

The implementation of Kansas City’s city Ordinance 190233 would allow the City Manager to allocate funds to create a more environmentally-friendly Kansas City. It would, in part, make the city adhere with the outline of the Paris Climate Agreement’s  central aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius .

While I agree that climate change is an incredibly important issue that warrants discussion, Kansas City already has funds allocated to at least 15 other green/sustainability ordinances, not including the federal grants we have towards green initiatives and councils in the city.

In 2015, the city enacted the Energy Empowerment Ordinance that was a benchmarking tool for  energy use in municipal and commercial building. This ordinance required buildings such as these to have their energy and waste use recorded to ensure they were as sustainable as possible.

Kansas City, in 2013, also joined the Missouri Clean Energy District, which allowed energy improvements to be easier and more affordable for new businesses opening in the city that seek tax incentives. Kansas City also has a contract with the Metropolitan Energy Center that helps provide energy efficient options, clean transportation, and more sustainable communities throughout the city.

The city is also a part of the Climate Protection Plan, a steering committee of eleven members that was adopted under the Funkhouser administration that governs Climate Change policies adopted by the city. That plan is in place until at least 2020, and is in collaboration with ENERGY STAR appliances. The Climate Protection Plan hopes to reduce energy usage city-wide. Between 2000 and 2013, in collaboration with ENERGY STAR, the city “was able to reduce electricity usage for its municipal operations by 21 percent.”

By comparison, Springfield and Saint Louis have very few environmental guidelines. Springfield’s “Sustainability Council” has six employees and focuses on education in classrooms instead of actual policies. Those cities have recycling options for residents, but they cost the resident more per month for trash collection. Saint Louis has one sustainability plan currently in place that was implemented in 2013 that…doesn’t do much. Saint Louis is still in discussion and is still “researching,” plans on how to improve sustainability, but mainly focuses on rehabilitation of downtown, and historic homes. It does not have a solid foundation on how to move towards climate change initiatives.

This begs the question, why are we trying to add more funds to an already heavily-funded effort in our city, especially in comparison to the other large cities in Missouri? As a city, we need infrastructure improvements and upgrades, additional public school funding, additional efforts in crime reduction, and more. This of course requires additional funding from the city. But yet here we are, trying to figure out how to add even more funding to focus on climate change initiatives when we already have a score of green initiatives in place now.

I do agree that climate change is very real, and it is an important issue that still needs to continue to be talked about. My question is, how can we implement climate change initiatives while still making sure we’re keeping other vital parts of the city budget in mind?

To learn more about all the ordinances the city has in place regarding sustainability, visit the city’s website at kcmo.gov/kcgreen.

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