Dane County adopts first community-wide climate action plan

The plan sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030
A bicyclist rides past wind turbines on a Madison-area trail. 

Dane County is working to fight climate change with the first community-wide climate action plan: the “2020 Dane County Climate Action Plan – Today’s Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow.”

The plan, which was announced Monday in a release, sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 in the county and puts the county on a path to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

“While the coronavirus crisis is more immediate, climate change is a slower moving risk and is one of the greatest challenges of our generation,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We cannot wait for the federal government – we must lead the effort at the local level and do our part to address the climate crisis. Now more than ever the effort of local elected officials, residents, business and community leaders across Dane County is required to produce a resilient climate-ready economy, carbon-free future.”

The plan was a project two years in the making for the Dane County Council on Climate change, which is comprised of business leaders, government officials, utility companies, University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Nelson Institute scientists and environmental advocates. The Climate Action Plan has strategies to reduce energy use in buildings, increase the supply of renewable energy and reduce emissions from transportation and waste sectors, the release said.

Scientists have found that southern Wisconsin is expected to get hotter and wetter. By 2050, predictions show 30 to 40 summer days will reach more than 90 degrees, when historically this number is 10 to 15 days a year.

In the plan, the goal is for the county to have one-third of electricity use from solar power and half with wind power by 2030.

“According to the World Health Organization, 23% of global deaths are due to modifiable environmental factors. By reducing carbon and other harmful emissions locally, this climate action plan will create a healthier environment for the citizens of Dane County, including our most vulnerable communities,” says Mary Evers Statz, program director of energy management and sustainability at UW Health.

Other emission reduction strategies are increasing electric vehicle sales, transitioning heavy-duty trucks to electricity or renewable natural gas vehicle, reducing vehicle miles traveled alone by shifting to alternative transportation options, reducing energy use by 2% per capita by increasing efficiency of buildings and processing 50% of livestock manure in anerobic digesters.

To see the full plan, click here.

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