Plan gives roadmap for reducing Evansville contribution to climate change

Shaun H. Ruff

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A newly created climate action plan aims to cut Evansville’s greenhouse gas emissions in half and make the city a zero-waste community.

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The plan sets targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2030, 35 percent by 2040 and 50 percent by 2050.

Reaching those end goals will require community collaboration, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said.

Developed as a roadmap to address climate change, the plan suggests 58 actions or strategies that can be implemented by government, businesses and residents.

An extensive public engagement process over the past year was used to find out not only what community priorities were but what was already being done, said Timothy Weir, who helped develop the plan.

a sign on a highway: The City of Evansville has just released its climate action plan.

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The City of Evansville has just released its climate action plan.

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“This is a community document. It’s a real collaboration,” Winnecke said. “I feel good about it. I think the public will largely appreciate it.”

Assisting in its development was Carolyn Townsend, a dual master’s degree student at the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

She and Weir led a process that included 40 stakeholder meetings, six community meetings and eight virtual town halls, as well as an online survey answered by more than 1,800 participants.

Nearly 47 percent of survey participants were in the age 25-44 age group and 67 percent were women. 

All that input was used along with data from an earlier Evansville greenhouse gas emissions inventory and examinations of best practices from other communities such as Cincinnati, South Bend, Indianapolis and Ann Arbor, Michigan, Weir said.

The strategies in the plan are broken down into four categories — transportation, buildings and energy, waste and local food, agriculture and green space.

“It tracks very closely with the direction that we got from stakeholders,” Weir said.

Some are actions that can largely be accomplished and funded by city government, Winnecke said.

These include adding more electric vehicle charging stations, moving the city’s bus fleet away from diesel to hybrid or electric and overhauling roadways to function as “complete streets” with dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians.

Others, such as businesses encouraging carpooling and educating the public about the benefits of composting, will take partners from the non-profit and business sectors, Weir said.

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Winnecke said the emphasis was on logical, practical strategies that were in keeping with community input and things that were achievable.

It also includes suggested actions individuals can take such as shopping at local farmers markets, biking or walking more, recycling and home energy efficiency.

“I think there is a real appetite from the community to not only learn about climate change but what they can do in their daily lives,” Weir said.

Winnecke said there will be an ongoing accountability for progress on the plan but how has not yet been determined. One accountability measure mentioned in the plan would be to create an online dashboard for the public to measure progress.

Weir said there will need to be additional outreach, education and community engagement efforts to engage the public on some of the plan’s strategies.

“There are so many things that need additional information such as a deeper understanding of recycling and how to adopt rooftop solar,” Weir said.

You can see the plan at

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Plan gives roadmap for reducing Evansville contribution to climate change

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