Home Climate justice Climate justice and youth advocacy among changes to updated Tempe climate action plan

Climate justice and youth advocacy among changes to updated Tempe climate action plan


The City of Tempe’s Sustainability and Resilience Commission updated its climate action plan on Wednesday with new resources and research to bolster the existing program, with a focus on youth, business , climate justice and neighborhoods.

The commission has partnered with organizations such as Local First Arizona (LFA) to create programs that develop a plan to benefit multiple communities in Tempe.

The update comes three years after the first version of the plan was released.

Kendon Jung has served on the Tempe Sustainability and Resilience Commission for six years and is currently the chair of the commission. He is also a graduate student in design, environment and arts and a project manager for Zero Waste at ASU. He said the first plan was “a skeletal policy with the aim of creating political space” for climate-focused action.

The first draft was also organized around three guiding principles: extreme heat resilience, energy resilience, and transportation. The new update takes a different approach, focusing on stakeholder agendas.

The Tempe Chamber of Commerce partnered with LFA to determine who these stakeholders would be. They landed on young people, businesses, neighborhoods and those in need of climate justice.

Braden Kay, the city’s director of sustainability, said the plan aims to focus on the opinions, wants and needs of the community.

“We’re really excited about this approach because it’s one of the first times that in any kind of climate action plan update across the country, we’ve really empowered the people, the world. business and residents to help co-create this program,” said Kay.

Nick Shivka, senior sustainability program manager at the LFA, worked on the business side of the plan and has been working with the city since October 2022.

“The original climate action plan that was adopted in 2019 developed a roadmap that outlined how the city would move forward, together with the community, towards achieving carbon neutrality,” Shivka said. “I’ve seen a shift from the original Climate Action Plan in that this Climate Action Plan update is working on all of those listening sessions. Tempe has done a great job interacting with the community making sure to go to every neighborhood and every community and say, “Hey, we want to hear from you.”

This plan not only includes more community input, but also offers more practical solutions and more specific policies and investments, Jung said.

“This upcoming climate action update is going to have a bit more meat and potatoes behind it, including program recommendations, human capital expansion, and infrastructure investments. Because at this point we know that our leadership means nothing unless we actually invest in those components,” Jung said.

After creating these goals and areas of focus with the community, “we then use these programs to help guide the investments, policies and actions the city will take to support what residents and businesses already want to work on. ,” Kay said.

READ MORE: Tempe updates its climate action plan to include community perspectives

The Youth Agenda was created through listening sessions with high school students, college students and recent graduates to gauge what younger generations are looking for.

The program includes increasing food equity by reducing the cost of school meals, making healthier foods more accessible and affordable through urban gardening and composting, and increasing the availability of shade and water. at transit centers and bus stops.

“Shaping Tempe to respond to what young people want and hope for is a critical strategy for us to build a strong climate action plan,” Jung said. “There will always be new youngsters, they always have perspectives that we need to incorporate.”

The business agenda was developed by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and the LFA. It includes an increase in water conservation audits on individual businesses and work to provide grants and rebates to businesses that commit to meeting the city’s energy efficiency and sustainability goals.

LFA has a history of working with businesses across the state with its Arizona Green Business certification, which rates an individual business on its energy and water usage and grants certification if the business meets rigorous requirements. .

“I think the most powerful element here that Braden was really looking for was inviting companies that had committed to our programs or were already doing those things, walking the walk, through solutions that address these root causes,” Shivka said.

Shivka said LFA invited local businesses to come to the agenda and to the listening sessions to set an example for other businesses to follow.

The new plan also addresses climate justice and different neighborhoods. During Wednesday’s update meeting, Kay presented data showing how extreme heat affects specific neighborhoods in Tempe differently and unevenly.

“When we look at social factors of vulnerability in terms of percentage of residents below the poverty line, percentage of residents of color, and percentage of older residents, many people with these attributes are vulnerable to extreme heat,” says Kay. “There are a lot of people with these experiences who live in the hottest parts of Tempe.”

The plan aims to address this issue through the creation of resilience hubs. These centers are community-serving facilities that distribute emergency resources and services to residents, Jung said. These hubs would store energy and be solar-powered independent of the city’s power grid.

Jung said the idea is that the hubs “will still have power that can run instantaneously for several hours or even an entire day without power for residents to access air conditioning, charge their phones and call family.”

READ MORE: Tempe Youth Council seeks to find equitable solutions to climate issues

“The idea of ​​this program is that we start at the school level, move to the neighborhood level and eventually convince the whole region through youth engagement and empowerment that we need to invest more in resilience to extreme heat,” Kay said in the update. meeting on Wednesday.

The plan will be presented in a working study to the Tempe City Council on February 17 and voted for approval in March or April.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] and follow @shanebrennan36 on Twitter.

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