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2013 Forum

2014 Earth Day Forum

 "Climate Smart Communities:  Let’s Get With the Program"

After the 2014 Forum: Climate Smart Communities: Let’s Get With the Program 

By Frank J. Regan

This year’s forum brought in over 300 folks to hear about the state’s Climate Smart Community (CSC) program. We also tried to get as many communities as possible west of Syracuse to join this volunteer program to help more New Yorkers adapt to and mitigate Climate Change. Sierra Club members succeeded in getting several communities to sign up.

Mark Lowery, manager of the program, spoke succinctly and forcefully about the findings of the Climate Change consequences in our region. Jeremy Moule, the sole reporter from Rochester who attended the event, summed up Mark’s talk here: “Local governments should, at a minimum, develop plans to deal with current and anticipated hazards caused by climate trends, such as flooding and strong storms, said Mark Lowery.” (“Making the case for local communities to act on climate change”, April 18, 2014, Rochester City Newspaper)

Our frequent attempts to get all the local media engaged on what the state is doing about Climate Change and helping communities (via educational webinars, developing climate action plans, boosting energy efficiency, increasing active transportation and much more) was met will little success.

I mention this lack of media attention because it was one of the main goals of the forum: to move this worldwide crisis to mainstream local media. If the local media is not even provoked to attend to this issue when the state speaks locally on a matter of this magnitude, it does not bode well for engaging the general public either. Large as the Sierra Club is, we cannot address Climate Change without the full cooperation of a substantial percent of the public. This issue is like no other in history, but messaging Climate Change to a reluctant public is and has been a major hurdle for environmental groups.

In August of 2009, Rochester took the CSC pledge and has done much over the years with this program and other efforts to address Climate Change. Surf over to the city’s Office of Energy & Sustainability and download the “Energy Management and Climate Action Status Report”  here. It’s a great start, but much more needs to be done by Rochester and other communities.

Mark did not cover all the consequences of Climate Change in our region, nor was he able to cover all aspects of the CSC program.

In the Q&A phase of the program, Mark was asked whether the CSC program has a good resource that lists all the ways local governments can promote and support a local food supply though good zoning, setting the example through local procurement for government agencies and schools, etc. Mark admitted that the program does not have expertise in urban agriculture, but that the CSC’s site has webinars that touch on some of these issues.

The state’s CSC program is a start. It is understaffed and most folks in New York State don’t even know about its existence. We hope our efforts at the forum boosted public knowledge of this program, and that more public concern about the state’s efforts will ramp up its ability to do more to address this worldwide crisis. The public must demonstrate that it demands that the state adequately address Climate Change, for your government is one of the very few groups that can be held accountable.

If your community has not signed the CSC pledge, please contact your community leader and get them to do so. Also contact Mark Lowery to continue the dialogue that we started at the forum at: Mark Lowery, Climate Policy Analyst, Office of Climate Change, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, 518-402-8027, mdlowery@gw.dec.state.ny.us 
 

We all need to get engaged in the Climate Change discussion

From Rochester westward, few communities have made the Climate Change Communities Pledge. The City of Rochester, Irondequoit, and Victor are the only communities in our region out of 122 communities in New York State that have signed on to the Climate Smart Communities pledge.

We hope to invite many community leader to this event who have not signed the pledge and urge them to consider signing on.

This map should be all yellow in order to have a Climate Change adaptation and mitigation program that will actually affect something so all encompassing as Climate Change. 

Press

  • Sierra Club invites leaders to 'climate smart' program Your town board members, village board members or county legislators may be smart, but are they climate smart? The Sierra Club thinks they should be. The Rochester-area chapter of the nation's largest environmental group is devoting its annual environmental forum on April 17 to climate change — and more specifically, the state's Climate Smart Communities program. Under that program, municipalities pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and prepare for the effects of a changing climate. Ultimately, the program encourages municipalities to help their residents do the same. The Sierra Club already has sent invitations to every municipal leader it could identify in Monroe and Ontario counties and hopes to extend the offer to officials in other counties. "We're trying to get as many people who haven't signed up yet to at least listen," said Frank Regan, a former chairman of the Sierra Club's Rochester Regional Group who has an abiding interest in climate change. "I'm hoping to bring people in and talk about an issue that doesn't get talked about that much." (March 30, 2014) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

  • Climate change fight: it's up to you  Over the past several months, top scientists from around the world have issued stark warnings about climate change. It's here, it's happening on a global scale, and countries are not prepared, they say. Climate change is the defining environmental issue of the modern age. But governments across the world have dragged their feet on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving this disaster. People can, however, act locally. Local action on climate change is the theme of the Rochester Sierra Club chapter's annual Earth Day environmental forum, which will be held at 7 p.m. on April 17, at First Unitarian Church, 220 South Winton Road. The featured speaker is Mark Lowery, a climate policy analyst with the State Department of Environmental Conservation's Office of Climate Change. (April 16, 2014) Rochester City Newspaper 

  • Talk about Climate Change at 1PM today on 1370AM with state's climate expert and Rochester Sierra Club At 1pm, the Sierra Club is hosting an event focusing on climate change. What can we do to curb the warming trends? A recent UN study finds that we'd have to cut emissions between 41% and 72% by 2050 to have a chance to prevent severe atmospheric consequences. Those are enormous numbers, and we'll explore what kind of economic effect it would have on a country trying to reach them.

What you can do...

  • Invite to elected officials Consider emailing or mailing your elected official a special invite to the forum. 

  • Please consider downloading and the printing the flyer for the forum, then placing it in a place where will it will attract a lot of attention.  We really do want a lot of folks to come and learn and talk about local and state efforts to address Climate Change.

Missed our 2014 Forum?

Check out some of the material from the forum:

  • Mark Lowery's Power Point Presentation, highlighting Climate Change in our region and information about the state's Climate Smart Communities program. Click here for a .pdf of the presentation.
  •  Missed our talk with Mark Lowery, a climate policy analyst with the State Office of Climate Change and manager of the state’s ‘Climate Smart Communities’ program? Don’t fret! Listen to it here and/or subscribe to Connections on iTunes and listen to this interview while you are jogging or gardening or thinking about Earth Day. Connections: Climate Change & "Climate Smart Communities"
  • Article written by Jeremy Moule after the forum: Making the case for local communities to act on climate change Drastic cuts in global carbon dioxide emissions are necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Still, decades of human-generated carbon emissions have already locked the planet into some degree of warming and change, climate scientists say.  In other words, the only relevant question is, just how bad will it be? And the answer depends on whether countries across the world can agree to sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly carbon dioxide. Local governments should, at a minimum, develop plans to deal with current and anticipated hazards caused by climate trends, such as flooding and strong storms, said Mark Lowery, a climate policy analyst with the State Office of Climate Change. Lowery was the featured speaker at the Rochester chapter of the Sierra Club's annual environmental forum, which was held last night at First Unitarian Church. "The costs of action pale in comparison to the costs of inaction," Lowery said. (April 18, 2014, Rochester City Newspaper)

Our Speaker:

Mark Lowery Climate Policy Analyst Office of Climate Change New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Mark Lowery is a climate policy analyst in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Climate Change. A DEC employee for 25 years, Mark began his DEC career as a wildlife biologist on Long Island, specializing in deer management. He joined the department’s Division of Public Affairs and Education in 1998 and moved to Albany in 2003 to become chief of the DEC’s Bureau of Public Outreach in 2003. His work managing the stakeholder process during the development of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ignited his concern about climate change, and he joined the Office of Climate Change when it was established in 2007.

Since joining the Office of Climate Change, his principal areas of responsibility have included leading public outreach efforts for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, State Sea Level Rise Task Force and State Climate Action Plan. He serves as the Office of Climate Change’s lead on climate adaptation and represents the office on the state’s interagency work group on adaptation and several other federal, state and local climate-change adaptation groups. Mark also manages the state Climate Smart Communities program.

Mark developed DEC’s first greenhouse gas inventory and has served on national workgroups to develop the Local Government Operations Protocol and the World Resources Institute Public Sector Protocol for greenhouse gas inventories.

Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s degree in Environmental and Forest Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

As Mark will be talking about some updates to the ClimAid report, the most comprehensive Climate report for New York State, consider reading this expert report on the changes coming to our region with Climate Change.

Read this important study that connects Rochester transportation and Climate Change--just released in March 2014

'The Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council has released Planning for Transportation and Climate Change: Model Ordinances, Incentives, and Other Resources, a compendium of model regulatory tools for local governments in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region to increase the energy efficiency of the transportation infrastructure for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Although written specifically for the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region, much of the information is applicable throughout New York State. Funding for the project was provided by the Genesee Transportation Council.' From    Office of Climate Change New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway, 9th Floor Albany, New York 12233 Phone: (518) 402-8448 Email: climatechange@gw.dec.state.ny.us