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Wisconsin has been quite progressive in its efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. The state ranked 11th for energy efficiency and climate policies best practices on the 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Two notable initiatives exemplify Wisconsin’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts: the Energy Independent Communities (EIC) program and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI).
EIC is a program under the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence to partner with communities to work toward Wisconsin’s goal of generating 25% of electricity and transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025 (“25x25”).
WICCI is a network of more then 40 scientists from the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and other agencies and institutions working to identify and measure the impacts of climate change and variability at local and regional scales, and develop adaptation strategies for Wisconsin ecosystem and natural resource management, agriculture, business, and human health.
While communities await guidance on adaptation from WICCI, many are focusing on mitigation of climate change through the EIC program. Several coastal communities are developing climate change action plans under the EIC program. However, much more climate change planning can be seen in the Lake Superior Basin than in the Lake Michigan Basin.
The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission (Bay-Lake RPC), which covers most of the coastal communities along Lake Michigan, would like to educate communities in its region about climate change, and encourage and assist them to begin planning for climate change and incorporate climate policy into current planning efforts.
Bay-Lake RPC would like to inform local officials about the effects of climate change on municipal governments and the benefits of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. We would like to work with a coastal community to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation goals, objectives, and an action plan to provide an example and template to further assist other coastal communities along Lake Michigan to do the same.
Beyond financial constraints, Bay-Lake RPC faces challenges with getting communities to see the need to plan for climate change. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding about how climate change will affect Wisconsin communities. For many, there is a lack of concern even when informed about the issue. Ultimately, communities need to see the economic benefits of climate change planning.
Angela Pierce is the Natural Resources Planner for Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission, where she is responsible for project development and coordination of Bay-Lake RPC’s natural resources/ environmental planning, and hazard mitigation programs. For the past eight years, Ms. Pierce has worked with local governments, and state and federal agencies to promote sustainable planning in Northeastern Wisconsin. Ms. Pierce holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy with an emphasis in Environmental Planning from the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay.
Resources1. Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission (www.baylakerpc.org)2. Kling, G.W., K. Hayhoe, L.B. Johnson, J.J. Magnuson, S. Polasky, S.K. Robinson, B.J. Shuter, M.M. Wander, D.J. Wuebbles, D.R. Zak, R.L. Lindroth, S.C. Moser, and M.L. Wilson (2003). Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Impacts on our Communities and Ecosystems. Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Ecological Society of America, Washington, D.C. (PDF) 3. Wittman, S. (2008) Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion. University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute/University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, Madison, WI. (PDF)4. Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) (www.wicci.wisc.edu)5. Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence (http://power.wisconsin.gov/section.asp?linkid=1238&locid=131)