Louisville Metro celebrates Earth Day with plans to cut pollution, increase resiliency

April 22, 2020

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Mayor Greg Fischer today released the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Prepare Louisville Climate Adaptation plans, which will reduce Louisville’s contribution to climate change and increase its resilience to extreme weather events and other climate change impacts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the need for greater resiliency in our community and our economy and shown us how human action makes a difference. The same is true for climate change; everyone together can make a difference,” said the Mayor. “Cutting pollution and preparing for climate change impacts contributes to public health and safety while saving money, creating new jobs, and improving quality life for all.”

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Prepare Louisville Climate Adaptation plans are the result of Mayor Fischer’s commitment four years ago to uphold the Paris Agreement by reducing community-wide emissions and take steps to protect community members and businesses from changing climate conditions.

If Louisville takes no action, we could have 42 more days each year above 100 degrees in 2040. Already, Louisville’s snowfall has declined 25 percent and the average number of days above 90 degrees has doubled since 1960, as well as recorded the three wettest days in the last decade.

As a result, our city could see more respiratory and heart disease cases, an overburdening of healthcare and emergency response systems, mental health issues, vulnerabilities to infrastructure, and rising insurance and energy costs. As with COVID-19, disenfranchised populations are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan

Louisville’s finalized Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan includes the broader actions including increasing energy efficiency, investing in renewable energy, switching to high-efficiency streetlights and other public lighting, improving public transportation to reduce miles driven, creating a food and organic waste recycling program, and advocating for changes to the Kentucky Building Code.

Residents can do their part to meet the goals of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan by:

  • Taking public transit, walking or biking
  • Planting trees and other greenery
  • Turning off lights when they aren’t needed
  • Not letting the faucet run while washing hands, brushing teeth or taking a shower
  • Buying locally made food and goods
  • Unplugging devices that aren’t in use
  • Recycling items like food carryout containers and composting leftovers
  • Investing in energy-efficient appliances and building materials

Residents can learn more about how they can help reduce their energy usage and personal emissions contributions by visiting www.louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/resources.

To help meet the goals of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, Mayor Fischer and Metro Council support switching to 100% renewable electricity by 2030, 100% clean energy for Metro operations by 2035 and 100% clean energy community-wide by 2040.

"I am proud of the Metro Council for setting bold goals to fully transform Louisville's energy economy for the next generation. The road to a healthier, wealthier city starts here today with 100% renewable electricity for city operations being the first stop,” said Councilman Brandon Coan, a sponsor of the resolution.

Challenge to businesses and institutions

Mayor Fischer Wednesday issued a challenge to businesses and institutions in the greater Louisville area to realize the benefits of energy efficiency by tracking and reducing their energy consumption. The Louisville Energy Alliance is hosting a Kilowatt Crackdown, with top honors going to the most efficient buildings and the buildings making the greatest energy improvements.

Any building in the Louisville is eligible, and all buildings striving to decrease their environmental impact will be recognized. Nominate a building for Kilowatt Crackdown recognition before August 1 at www.louisvilleenergyalliance.org/kilowatt-crackdown.

“It will take all of us, private and public entities, working together to reduce our emissions and contributions to climate change,” the Mayor said.

Prepare Louisville Climate Adaptation Plan

Prepare Louisville is the city’s plan to reduce climate-related risk to both people and nature. Strategies and actions presented in the plan are designed to protect community members most at risk while building resilience across all people, businesses, and natural resources throughout the community.

Residents are encouraged to submit their feedback on Prepare Louisville now through May 31 at  www.louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/climate-action-and-resilience.

A draft version of the plan outlines seven priority strategies to build climate resilience:

  • Equitable Neighborhoods – Cool and flood-proof Louisville with a focus on low-income neighborhoods through steps including expanding the tree canopy and green space, and opening cool centers where people can find refuge from the heat.
  • Healthy Residents – Address health hazards exacerbated by climate change by reducing air and water pollution, increasing availability of healthy food options, and monitoring and reducing pests and disease risks.
  • Natural Capital – Reduce the risks of climate impacts and promote health by adopting green infrastructure strategies for flood and stormwater management, restoring wildlife habitats and biodiversity, and curbing the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.
  • Sustainable Businesses – Promote business sustainability and preparedness, green jobs, and living wages.
  • Resilient Infrastructure – Prepare transit, stormwater management and other critical systems, as well as homes and businesses, from extreme weather.
  • Louisville Leads – Lead by example through climate-smart city operations and policies and provide climate change education and outreach.

Residents can take action to prepare themselves and their families by creating an emergency plan and kit. They can also sign up to receive air quality alerts at www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm and to receive alerts about severe weather from the Louisville Emergency Notification System (LENSAlert) at www.louisvilleky.gov/government/emergency-services/lensalert-smart911.

Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability developed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan and Prepare Louisville Climate Adaptation Plan through collaboration with climate change experts, other city departments, and community stakeholders who contributed via planning meetings, community dialogues and online surveys.

For information on climate actions the public, businesses, and organizations can take, visit www.louisvilleky.gov/government/sustainability/resources.