In early 2018 the Charlotte City Council invited local leaders from the environmental, health, faith, justice, business, and government sectors to provide input on a suite of climate-related policies and commitments that eventually became the Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte by 2050 Resolution and the Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The community stakeholders chose to organize themselves as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Climate Leaders (CMCL) and began meeting monthly at Clean Air Carolina’s offices, with CAC Executive Director June Blotnick chairing the meetings and coordinating the group’s activities. Meetings are held virtually at noon on the third Wednesday of each month. Contact June at [email protected] to be added to the invitation list.
Assessing Duke Energy’s Climate Goals
Every two years Duke Energy submits an updated integrated resource plan (IRP) to state regulators, detailing how they expect to consume and produce resources over the next 15 years. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Climate Leaders published a report evaluating Duke Energy’s publicly-stated climate goals and comparing those to the specific carbon reduction strategies outlined in their IRP. The report includes 47 findings, eight recommended actions, and raises a number of questions and concerns that CMCL hope the company will address moving forward.
Moving Towards a Cleaner Bus Fleet
Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis, CMCL advocates for a swift transition away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet the city’s goal of sourcing 100% of its energy use in its buildings and fleet from zero carbon sources by 2030. This includes replacing Charlotte’s fleet of 323 buses with electric vehicles. CMCL met with City Council members, the City Manager, and other officials over the past 18 months providing them with the latest research on electric buses and urging them not to invest in diesel and natural gas powered vehicles. In late October 2020 the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) CEO announced that Duke Energy is in negotiations with the city to buy electric buses for CATS. This is a major win for the Charlotte community and CMCL is glad to have played a role in facilitating this clean air transition.
Supporting Community Climate Goals
CMCL members also sit on the SEAP’s four external content groups: Energy Generation, Workforce Development, Buildings, and Transportation, to create and support strategies that will help the city meet its community-wide goal of becoming a low-carbon city by 2050, spanning all sectors, to bring city-wide greenhouse gas emissions to below 2 tons CO2e per person annually. Two initiatives CMCL is currently undertaking is the planning of a Greening Our Faith Communities Summit in May of 2021 and the creation of the NC Climate Ambassadors which initially started in Charlotte. The expanded program provides training and resources to engage more North Carolinians in community dialogue and advocacy about climate change’s impact on the state and solutions that can be implemented now.
Now representing over 30 organizations, CMCL members are also working with the Mecklenburg County Commission’s Environmental Stewardship Committee to develop a similar emissions reduction plan for County operations similar to Charlotte’s. A series of Lunch and Learn programs educated commissioners and county staff about the climate crisis, its impacts on Mecklenburg County, potential carbon-reduction strategies, and information on how other cities and counties in North Carolina are reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
CMCL Steering Committee
June Blotnick, Clean Air Carolina
Steve Copulsky, Sierra Club
Angela Gray, R.I.C.s Market Foundation
Don Green, Progressive AE
John Harvey, NC League of Conservation Voters
Joel Porter, Clean Air Carolina
Jennifer Roberts, ecoAmerica
Steve Rundle, Char-Meck NAACP
Martin Zimmerman, City Wise Studio USA
NC Climate Ambassadors Program: Virtual Training Workshop
Through our partnership with ecoAmerica’s Path to Positive Communities we are equipping civic leaders and community advocates with the knowledge, communications skills, and resources to speak and act confidently on climate change solutions. The Climate Ambassadors Program provides an opportunity for you to learn the latest about climate change impacts on North Carolina communities, solutions available right now that would decrease greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs, and how to communicate these issues to everyone from members of your book group to your state representatives. Two-day virtual trainings are held throughout the year with featured presenters:
Clean Air Carolina
Climate Ambassadors Training
March 16 & 17; 4:00pm-6:00pm (EST)
Climate Ambassadors are committed to speaking out for our children’s future on a healthy planet. Our next Climate Ambassadors Training workshop will be held online March 16 & 17, 2021, 4:00pm-6:00pm both days. This is a free event and open to all who are interested in making a difference.
Environmental and Climate Justice Forum
March 22; 5:30pm – 6:30pm (EST)
Join NC Climate Ambassadors as they explore the broader topic of environmental justice in North Carolina and how climate change, the environmental issue of our generation, is highlighting the ongoing disproportionate impacts on historically marginalized, underserved, and black and brown communities. The goal is for climate advocates to gain a better understanding of the topic so they feel more confident talking about climate justice to their friends, neighbors, elected officials, and the media.