Community turns out for climate action prioritization workshop

Community turns out for climate action prioritization workshop

A packed Kauffman Foundation Conference Center was host to in-depth discussions from local stakeholders across several key categories for climate action funding.

MARC Environmental programs capped off weeks of public input on the next phase of the KC Regional Climate Action Plan on Friday with a three-hour workshop reviewing the framework developed from prior stakeholder meetings. The goal of the event was to further refine proposed projects and programs that are meant to implement the regional plan and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The event space housed a diverse cross-section of the nine-county region, who participated in two different breakout table conversations: one about the proposed set of investments sketched out in the framework, and their impact on equity, energy savings, emissions reductions, and the traditional and circular economy. The second discussion centered around projects that participants would like to see that were still missing from the draft, and how they measured up against criteria that align with EPA grant money that could potentially fund them.

Participants also got to see a recap video on this Fall’s Climate Action Summit, featuring the event’s keynote speaker, Shalini Vajjhala, founder and CEO of Re:Focus Partners. Vajjhala charged participants in this prioritizing process to take on the extraordinarily difficult task of “spending a lot of money well”. “If you have vision and funding, but no capacity, nothing gets built,” says Vajjhala. “Vision and capacity, but no money, and you get beautiful drawings. And if you have capacity and funding but no vision…you get what you had.”

Organizers are confident that the countless pages of notes from passionate community stakeholders will synthesize into the best vision for regional climate action that addresses Vajjhala’s two key questions: who loses money if we don’t get climate planning right, and who suffers if we don’t get it right. “Combining those two things gets you to the best and most fundable project,” says Vajjhala. “Doing the bigger thing is actually easier to fund.”

Participants also previewed the future marketing campaign our Climate and Environment Council will release to the public later in the future, developed by Barkley ad agency with creative help from students at the Kansas City Art Institute.

The finalized priority and comprehensive climate action plans will be submitted for federal grant funding consideration as part of the EPA Climate Pollution Reduction implementation grant in early 2024.