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The 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan: Paving the Way for Equitable Climate Action

These days, it’s no secret that cities are stepping up as local sustainability leaders.

One city paving the way toward climate action is Cincinnati. The City earned an international reputation as a climate leader with the adoption of its Green Cincinnati Plan in 2008. It was one of the first municipal climate action plans of its kind in the country and has catalyzed a 36.6% reduction in the City’s carbon emissions from buildings, transportation, and waste since its adoption.

Participants share ideas at Green Cincinnati Plan Community Activation Subcommittee breakout session. Credit: Kylie Johnson

Every five years, the City has worked with the community to update the plan and I’m proud to have played a part in this most recent update. In 2022, I was appointed by Mayor Aftab Pureval to represent the OEC on the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan Steering Committee and serve as Chair of the Community Activation Subcommittee. It’s the first time the OEC has had a voice at the table to steer the community engagement process in Cincinnati.

Advocacy, education, and outreach were foundations for the Community Activation Subcommittee to engage as many Cincinnati residents as possible. Community members, nonprofit leaders, businesses, faith communities, educational institutions, and advocacy groups worked together to empower Cincinnati residents to take climate action. Our Subcommittee prioritized and refined over 200 recommendations submitted by the community! All in all, over 1,600 residents participated in over 40 public meetings to share their voices, including 150 residents from frontline communities most impacted by climate change.

Mayor Aftab Pureval (right) and Councilmember Meeka Owens (second from right) speak at a Green Cincinnati Plan Press Conference. Credit: Kylie Johnson

These recommendations, alongside those from other committees, were ultimately shared with the
Green Cincinnati Plan Steering Committee, chaired by Councilmember Meeka Owens. Together,
we synthesized more than 3,000 resident recommendations into 40 high-impact emissions
reduction strategies across eight focus areas of the Plan — with the ultimate goal of achieving an aggressive 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

Intentionally centering racial equity throughout the engagement process and final written plan
was imperative to the Plan’s success. In doing so, the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan sets an example for the world on how to prioritize environmental justice in city-level climate action plans by
embedding equity, inclusion, and community voice throughout.

The 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan’s unanimous adoption by Cincinnati City Council in April marks a defining moment in the City to center equity in climate action goals. I look forward to continuing this work on behalf of the OEC, and I am excited to see what Cincinnati can accomplish with our collective power.