Climate Justice

“Cities are leading the fight against a warming planet. In order to rise to the moment, Columbus must take bold action to prevent any future emissions and invest in resiliency to protect our families from increasing heatwaves, flooding, and other climate impacts. These investments can also begin to unwind the legacy of environmental racism and chart a path towards a more equitable future.”

Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Buildings

  • Residential and commercial building emissions, along with the transportation sector, drive the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in Columbus. 
  • In 2020, Columbus City Council and Columbus voters approved a ballot measure ensuring 100% renewable energy by 2022. Residents rallied to buy electricity together, providing competitive pricing and more local control over the clean energy sources. 
  • Columbus must continue this momentum by building solar on city-owned buildings and land to bolster local, publicly-owned clean energy resources and creating good-paying jobs in the process.
  • Council President Hardin supported benchmarking large building energy and water usage to create the foundation to drive energy and water efficiency and foster a healthier environment. Columbus can now utilize this momentum to establish reduction targets for large buildings to radically reduce energy usage. Tenants and property owners can save money from retrofits and the subsequent reduction in energy usage.
  • Increase residential and commercial solar investment through incentives.

Sustainable Transit & Urban Growth

  • Vehicle emissions are the second largest factor driving climate change in Columbus. We must work to expand fast, frequent, and affordable transit access, invest in clean vehicles, and improve access to parks and greenspace. 
  • While some think Columbus is safe from climate impacts, burning fossil fuels causes substantial air pollution, leading to almost 250,000 premature deaths a year in the United States alone. These impacts also don’t impact communities evenly, with a greater burden falling on black and brown communities
  • Prioritizing affordable, sustainable transit and providing transportation choices – like a vastly expanded bike and trail network and sidewalks – to neighborhoods across Columbus is critical to address greenhouse gas emissions in our city. 
  • Transit improvements must include more frequent reliable service, accessible transit stops for riders of all abilities, and discounted or free-fare programs for low-income riders. 
  • As Columbus builds this new transit network, we must also push to build more affordable housing and job centers near those new transit lines. (This is often called Equitable Transit Oriented Development.) 
  • The City of Columbus should replace current city government vehicles with electric vehicles with the long-term goal of a zero-carbon fleet.

Investing in Resiliency

  • By mid-century, Columbus could see an additional 3 to 7 weeks per year of high temperatures exceeding 90°F, and an additional 1 to 2 weeks exceeding 95°F. To protect Columbus families from heatwave threats, Columbus should pursue a robust urban forestry plan, green roof projects, and heatwave relief grants for items like air conditions, etc. These investments must center communities of color and working-class residents who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. 
  • Columbus must invest in local climate impact assessments to fully grasp the financial strain that a warming planet will have on the city’s budget and, more importantly, residents’ budgets. These assessments can then be used to create a green and blue bond program to jumpstart bold capital investments for a safer and more equitable future.
  • Together with regional partners, Columbus should develop a regional adaptive management plan to ensure that roads, bridges, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure is ready for the potential impacts of climate change.