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Climate Change Action

What is the Climate Change Action Plan?
The Cuyahoga County Climate Change Action Plan is an effort to set targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, implement and track actions to meet targets, and adapt to climate change as it occurs across the county.

In July 2017, Cuyahoga County joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an international alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low-emission, resilient society.

By joining, the County committed to complete and publicly report on the following within three years: 
  1. County-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory consistent with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), within one year or less
  2. Climate hazards faced by our county 
  3. Targets to reduce GHG emissions, within two years or less  
  4. Vulnerabilities faced by our county, within two years or less 
  5. Plans to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, within three years or less 

Why Cuyahoga County?
Climate change is already affecting our environment, economy, and human health here in Northeast Ohio. In future years Cuyahoga County will experience warmer, wetter, and wilder weather. The average annual temperature in Cuyahoga County has already increased 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit from the historic 30-year average. Annual average precipitation in Cuyahoga County has increased by 11.7 percent. On average we are seeing at least two more severe storms per year than over the 100-year average. Between 1973-2010, ice cover on Lake Erie declined by 50 percent. And our growing season has changed from zone five to zone six just since 1990.

What are we doing?
We are creating an ambitious climate action plan for our county that will focus on both reducing carbon pollution and preparing for the impacts of climate change. Our plan has five focus areas: energy, transportation, land use, ecosystem, and health.

Some projects we’ve led to reduce carbon pollution include:
  • Launched UH Bikeshare in 2016, which has led to carbon reduction of 73,840 pounds
  • Helped almost 100 households in the county go solar through our solar co-op program, leading to 8,824,117 pounds of carbon saved from going into the atmosphere
  • Our Brooklyn landfill solar project won Solar Builder magazine’s national “Solar Project of the Year” award in 2018 and is supplying virtually all the electricity to our County Administration building 

How Are We Looking Forward?

  • Creating a Green Bank: Working with the Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation, Cuyahoga County has hired the Coalition for Green Capital to establish a local Green Bank to help finance and support local clean energy projects. See http://coalitionforgreencapital.com/whats-a-green-bank-html/ for more information on green banks.
  • Supporting the County Greenway Plan: The Cuyahoga County Planning Department has developed an extensive plan to increase the amount of bike and pedestrian routes in the County. Our Public Works Department has identified key overlaps with the plan and will spend approximately $2 million to expand new routes. See http://www.countyplanning.us/projects/cuyahoga-greenways/
  • Fostering Transit-Oriented Development: We are supporting economic and community development projects which enhance or are enhanced by their proximity to public transit. The County Economic Development Department will develop an incentive program for any qualifying company that will move or expand into a job hub and that’s accessible to public transit. See http://www.riderta.com/tod 
  • Contributing $1 million dollars a year for the next five years in conjunction with a Tree Canopy plan: Trees are vital for many reasons including managing storm water, reducing heat island effect, minimizing local air pollution and enhancing overall mental and physical health. Cleveland and many first ring suburbs especially have woefully low tree canopy percentages. http://www.countyplanning.us/projects/urban-tree-canopy-assessment/communities/ 
  • Increasing County Solar: In 2019 the County will be adding rooftop solar to three buildings (Animal Shelter, Medical Examiner’s Office and the Harvard Road Garage in Newburgh Heights) through a power purchase agreement. Over the next 25 years, the County will save $900,000 in energy costs and almost 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year through the rooftop solar program. Local governments will be able to piggyback off our contract, which will hopefully lead to more solar being deployed in the County.