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Omaha to develop action plan to combat climate change

November 5, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha plans to join hundreds of other U.S. cities by trying to come up with strategies to combat climate change.

While the Nebraska Legislature has rejected calls for a statewide plan, Omaha will lead a metropolitan area climate action plan expected to be funded with a mix of public and private money, the Omaha World-Herald reported Thursday.

Mayor Jean Stothert told the newspaper in an email that the time is right.

“Omaha has been implementing sustainability measures for some time now without the need for a formal plan,” she wrote. “The current timeline gives us the opportunity to maximize the results of more coordination for climate-related practices.”

Climate plans typically involve identifying where a community is most vulnerable to severe weather, its contribution to global warming, what needs to be done and measurable steps that can be taken.

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A consultant is expected to be chosen by mid-2022. It could take a year or longer for the consultant that’s chosen to develop the plan.

Some wonder what took so long. The Kansas City metropolitan area, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Lincoln are among nearby places that already have climate action plans.

“Omaha and the surrounding area are late to the solutions game,” said David Corbin, chairman of the Missouri Valley Sierra Club’s energy committee.

Frances Mendenhall of Citizens Climate Lobby, a California-based nonprofit that advocates for policies to address climate change, said cities can reduce their emissions by enacting building codes that lead to greater energy efficiency and through planning, zoning and transportation strategies that lessen the need to drive.

Kevin Andersen, Stothert’s deputy chief of staff for economic development, said some of the impetus for the plan comes from the desire to remain competitive in drawing new employers and talented workers.

“From an economic development perspective, more and more, it’s getting to be a prerequisite,” he said. “We’re hearing that these kinds of approaches are very important to both businesses and the workforce.”