Memphis working to complete city’s first climate action plan

Memphis working to complete city’s first climate action plan

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A United Nations Climate Action Change Summit has the world talking about how to save the environment. Meanwhile, right here at home, the City of Memphis is finishing up it’s first ever climate action plan.

The climate action plan has been in the works for over a year and it’s still not complete, but when it is done, it will bring many changes to help save the environment.

Sitting on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, the City of Memphis could be at a heightened risk to a changing climate.

“For us, we’re most vulnerable to things like flooding, storm water flooding, extreme heat," said Director of Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development, John Zeanah.

For more than a year, the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development has been working on the city’s 1st Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan is part of Memphis’ commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayor’s--a pact between cities all over the world.

Memphis’ plan focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transportation and waste.

“An example would be retrofitting street lights throughout the city with LED. Obviously LED lights are much more energy effiecient, cost effective," said Zeanah.

“This is a really big deal for a city like Memphis because we’re not known, in the US, as being a leader in sustainability but that means that we compete to attract investment, to attract population with cities that are known as being leaders,” Jennifer Sciubba, Environmental Studies Program professor at Rhodes College said.

Jennifer Sciubba, a professor with the Environmental Studies Program at Rhodes College says environmental improvement programs in Memphis will help the city’s most vulnerable populations.

“This is a really big deal for a city like Memphis because we’re not known, in the US, as being a leader in sustainability but that means that we compete to attract investment, to attract population with cities that are known as being leaders,” said Sciubba.

The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020, 51 percent by 2035 and 71 percent by 2050. The total cost of the plan is still being calculated.

For those concerned about the cost, Zeanah told WMC most of the changes are cost effective--reducing energy usage and hopefully reducing the strain on infrastructure with worsening weather disasters.

The climate action plan is expected to be completed and released within the next month.

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