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For the first time, Cincinnati has a council committee focused on climate change

Courtesy Meeka Owens

Cincinnati Council's first-ever committee on climate change met for the first time Wednesday afternoon.

Meeka Owens is chair of the Climate, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee. She says there are dozens of opportunities to address climate change at the local level.

"To create more walkable, connected neighborhoods, developing multimodal transportation, adding more green space in our neighborhoods, preparing for an emerging electric vehicle market, improving pedestrian safety, installing solar panels, increasing bike lanes, improving water and air quality, and capitalizing on transit oriented development," Owens said.

Vice Chair Mark Jeffreys says climate change is not just a "global issue."

"We do have a role on climate change at a city level, at a municipal level," Jeffreys said. "You think about [the fact that] 31% of emissions are transportation related; there's a lot that we can do."

The committee's first action was to approve a motion from Jeffreys and Owens asking the administration to pause work on a planned expansion to the Central Parkway bike lane.

Officials are updating the city's Bike Plan this year, last updated in 2010. And work will begin on another version of the Green Cincinnati Plan, scheduled for an update every five years. It's set for an update in 2023, but the complicated process means staff want to get a big head start.

"We're in the process of aligning with city leadership and with community stakeholders about what that relaunch looks like," said Michael Forrester, director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability. "We hope to have a further plan and more information in the next couple of months."

Last year was the fourth-warmest year on record in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee will meet every other Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.