• Wed. May 31st, 2023

Green Plan will make Cincinnati more sustainable, equitable, and resilient

By Monica Windholtz

City of Cincinnati

At the Civic Garden Center in Avondale on April 3, Mayor Aftab Pureval and Councilmembers Meeka D. Owens and Mark Jeffreys introduced the completed 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan for adoption as Cincinnati’s official climate action plan.

The Green Cincinnati Plan is a community vision that includes 30 goals, 40 strategies, and 130 priority actions that will lead to a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient Cincinnati.

The primary goal of the Plan is to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and 100% carbon neutrality by 2050.

“While the 2018 Plan has guided Cincinnati on a route to meet our previous goals for carbon reduction, the continuing, growing threats of climate change require us to demand more from ourselves and from each other,” said Councilmember Meeka D. Owens, chair of the Green Cincinnati Steering Committee and Council’s Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee. “Our community showed up and participated in the Green Cincinnati Plan renewal process because they care deeply and share these concerns for our future.”

The Office of Environment and Sustainability, in partnership with Green Umbrella and Groundwork Ohio River Valley, conducted 42 engagement sessions and engaged a total of 3,766 people. This included 157 people at events held specifically for frontline communities.

“If we want to fully reach our potential as a city, then it’s critical that we step up and meet the golden opportunity we have right now,” said Mayor Pureval. “To build an economy around clean energy and innovative green jobs, to capture the historic federal funding opportunities for climate action, and to make sure that every community in Cincinnati is resilient and positioned to thrive in the generations to come.”

The recommendations of the GCP are organized across eight focus areas: Buildings & Energy, City Operations, Community Activation, Food, Mobility, Natural Environment, Resilience & Climate Adaptation, and Zero Waste. Across all the focus areas, items that emerged as key community priorities include creating jobs, prioritizing communities, fostering public awareness, and leveraging funding opportunities.

“With the adoption of this year’s update to the Green Cincinnati plan, we continue to make equity and environmental justice a priority of City Council. From eliminating food deserts in all neighborhoods to adding 4,000 good paying, green jobs, these strategies ensure Cincinnati reaches carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Councilmember Mark Jeffreys.

“Climate tech is a $2.7 trillion opportunity. Our region is home to promising green startups such as Electrada, GoSun, Blue Ocean Solids, Donovan Energy, Intersect Ag, and 80-Acres,” said Pete Blackshaw, CEO of Cintrifuse, the regional catalyst for startups and BigCo innovation. “We have the potential to transform our City and Region into Green ‘Lab of the Future,’ as the US is embarking on an unprecedented tech-based industrial policy – with hundreds of billions in incentives to shift to a green economy – and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity.”

Pureval and Owens also announced a refresh of the Environmental Advisory Board, the group responsible for advising the City on environmental issues for nearly fifty years. However, it has not been explicitly linked with the recommendations of the Green Cincinnati Plan. With this refresh, the plan will have a built-in group of community leaders and advocates to guide City sustainability priorities, leverage partnerships, and report to Council on the successes, concerns, and next steps.

Director Ollie Kroner of the Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability said, “I will tell you that members of the Green Cincinnati team have poured themselves into this work. We experience tremendous pressure to get this right – to meet this moment of urgency and opportunity. But together, I believe we can achieve these goals.”