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Kansas City climate leaders say there is 'terrific energy' to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

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Three people sit inside a radio studio around a table. The man at right is gesturing while talking at a microphone. The others appear to be listening.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
From left: Hillary Parker Thomas, Jeremy Knoll, and Tom Jacobs talk about Kansas City's climate goals on KCUR's Up To Date on Sept. 6, 2023.

A climate action plan for the Kansas City region set a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This Saturday, local leaders and community members will gather for a climate summit to celebrate what's already been achieved and identify goals for the future.

Efforts to decrease the carbon footprint of the Kansas City metro are well on their way.

Kansas City Manager Brian Platt says the city is working toward a variety of sustainability initiatives, including a solar farm that could be one of the largest of its kind in the country. And across the region, municipalities are working towards LEED-certified buildings, new offices of sustainability, electric vehicle charging networks, and more.

Created in 2021, the Kansas City Regional Climate Action Plan set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the region by 2050. Local leaders are optimistic that the goal can be achieved.

Nineteen municipalities representing 80% of the population have signed on to the Climate Action Plan, and federal funding for sustainability projects is at an all-time high thanks to "unprecedented levels of funding" from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.

But there's still more to do to get there.

"We're doing a lot, and it's just wonderful," said Tom Jacobs, chief resilience officer at the Mid-America Regional Council. "There's terrific energy, but I'd say there's a need to do more. How can we go bigger? How can we scale up? How can we go faster? How can we work smarter together?"

  • Hillary Parker Thomas, board chair, Climate Action KC and Mission City Council member
  • Jeremy Knoll, president, Climate Action KC
  • Tom Jacobs, Chief Resilience Officer, Mid-America Regional Council

Climate Action KC's Climate Summit 2023 will take place Saturday, September 9 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Rockhurst University. The event is currently sold out, but you can sign up for the waitlist.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As an Up To Date producer, I aim to create a space for Kansas Citians to come together for curious and inspired conversations about the region we call home. I want to help find answers to big questions, shine a light on local change makers and break down complex issues people need to know about. Email me at hallejackson@kcur.org.
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