Story County supervisors make plans to move forward with climate resiliency work in 2022

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

Story County — Iowa's sixth most-populous — will begin planning for climate resiliency in 2022 after the county's Board of Supervisors approved a proposal at its meeting Tuesday.

The county is following the footsteps of its largest community, Ames, which started its yearlong climate action planning process this year and recently set a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 83% by 2030.

The county, however, only plans to address its own operations, while Ames and other communities' plans take into account everything within their borders. County Outreach and Speal Projects Manager Leanne Harter said climate planning for the rest of the county will come later.

"I want to stress that that's important to keep in mind because that is a much larger process than what this is," Harter said.

Related: Ames City Council targets net-zero emissions by 2050 in new climate action plan

Vice Chair Latifah Faisal is currently part of the Ames Climate Action Plan Supplemental Input Committee.

"I'm really enjoying the whole process and learning a lot," Faisal said.

Across the world, 704 cities, including 96 that represent 25% of the world's GDP and 1/12 of its population, have adopted targets of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a presentation at a recent Ames City Council meeting.

Iowa City, Polk County, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids have all made commitments as part of their climate action plans. Linn County is in the process of formalizing a climate action plan of its own, too.

With Tuesday's vote, the county will seek an entity to contract for the project for an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the preliminary study.

The county laid out steps to move forward with a climate resiliency study to be completed over the next 12 months. Next month, the county is set to adopt a resolution establishing Story County Climate Resiliency Leadership Strategy. In February, the county plans to reactivate its Go Green Team, a team of staff members tasked with developing a sustainability strategic plan that disbanded in 2014.

The actual development of the climate resiliency plan will come after the 18-month preliminary study is completed.

The county has established it will not move forward with any action steps until the greenhouse gas inventory is completed.

"We've actually never done — even when we did have the Go Green Team activated or in process — we've never done an inventory of our greenhouse gasses," Harter said. "So that is a really important starting point."

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.