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Key Steps to Help Implement Carbon Reduction:

  • Look for City and community-level opportunities such as asking your community to sign on to the Mayors’ 100% Clean Energy initiative.
  • Ask your cities and communities for information about their local climate preparedness plans and offer them resources that are available on this website.
  • Engage with local corporations. There are many Fortune 500 companies who have signed on to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Work with local unions and partnerships such as the BlueGreen Alliance. Identify partners who have common goals, if for different reasons.
  • Educate yourself and decision-makers on financial incentives such a carbon tax or low-carbon investments.

Continuing Trends

According to the EPA’s Climate Adaptation report on Region 4 (which includes Kentucky):

Temperatures across the Southeast Climate Region are expected to increase during this century, …major warming consequences include significant increases in the number of hot days exceeding 95°F and decreases in freezing events. Projections for the region by 2100 include increases of 10°F for interior states of the Region with a regional average increase ranging from 2°F to 6°F.

  • The annual number of days with extreme precipitation is expected to increase across most of the Region by the mid‐21st century, particularly along the southern Appalachians as well as parts of Tennessee and Kentucky.
  • In the Southeast Climate Region, numerous cities, roads, railways, ports, airports, oil and gas facilities, and water supplies are in low-elevation areas, making them vulnerable to sea-level rise.
  • Two criteria pollutants, ozone and particulate matter (PM), appear to be at risk for future ambient level increases caused by a warming climate.
  • In some parts of the Southeast, droughts, changing patterns of precipitation, and increased water loss due to evaporation as a result of warmer air temperatures will result in changes to the availability of water for drinking and for use for agriculture and industry. In other areas, sea level rise and salt water intrusion will have a similar effect. Warmer air temperatures may also result in increased demands on community water supplies and the water needs for agriculture, industry, and energy production are also likely to increase.
  • With regard to Kentucky, large cities located on or near waterways, such as the Ohio River, may be more susceptible to flooding; infrastructure in cities may be overwhelmed, leading to releases. Currently 14 Superfund or Superfund Alternative Sites are located in the State; 12 of these sites have ongoing five-year reviews required by residual waste.The anticipated climate change attributes of heavy rains, increased temperatures and high humidity cycles will likely facilitate this trend to continue whereupon the population will be exposed to poorer indoor air quality.
  • Warmer air temperatures will result in warmer water that will hold less dissolved oxygen making instances of low oxygen levels and hypoxia more likely, foster harmful algal blooms and change the toxicity of some pollutants, and could cause an increased number of waters to be recognized as “impaired”.
  • Full text: EPA Region 4 Adaptation Implementation Draft Plan

Cities and Counties lead the way

There are now over 100 cities worldwide that are now powered primarily by renewable energy such as hydro, geothermal,wind and solar. Most notably, the city of Georgetown, Texas was the first city in the nation to commit to a transition to 100% renewables, which shows that even in a state where fossil fuels have played a significant role, the transition to a lower-carbon economy is possible. Much of this momentum at the city level was spurred by the U.S. Conference of Mayors climate protection program that has been encouraging mayors to sign on to the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, vowing to reduce carbon emissions in their cities below 1990 levels, in line with the Kyoto Protocol.

 Companies and Industrial Sector Play a Role

Organizations such as The BlueGreen Alliance unites major labor unions and environmental organizations to solve environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy. Unions such as the AFL-CIO have passed climate change resolutions. There are many businesses within Kentucky who can play a supportive role in implementing good clean energy work and climate adaptation.

Market Incentives

Educate yourself and decision-makers on financial incentives such as placing a price on carbon. Emphasize proposals that do not disproportionally affect low-income and heavily-impacted communities. There are also programs that encourage socially-responsible investment into low-carbon alternatives such as the Divest-Invest initiative.

Resource Links:

  • The AFL-CIO resolution notes that workers, communities of color and low-income Americans suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation and climate change through polluted air, water and land, and from drought and extreme weather events.
  • The Paris Agreement commits parties to take into account the imperative of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs when addressing climate change.
  • The fastest and most equitable way to address climate change is for labor to be at the center of creating solutions that reduce emissions while investing in our communities, maintaining and creating high-wage union jobs, and reducing poverty. Full Text here.