Some in the community want climate change to be a priority with elected leaders

Community wants climate change to be a priority with leaders

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - People in Savannah are asking what more can be done to protect our city when it comes to climate change.

The questions come just two weeks after climate strikes nationwide, including right here in our region. During a community meeting Monday night, their goal was to carry some of the energy from those climates, and create some action.

“Even though 67 percent of Americans understand that climate change is real and a problem, only 33 percent ever talk about it with anybody,” said Karen Grainey, Co-Director for the Center of Sustainable Coast.

Close to 40 people packed a downtown coffee shop to work on figuring out how to do more. Residents took notes on the big topics, such as offshore drilling, how to promote responsible economic growth, and how to get the attention of local leaders.

“Meetings like this are a way to galvanize the public to act and contact the city leaders to let them know that during this election season, that we think climate change should be a priority," Grainey said.

Savannah’s Office of Sustainability said they are working on several local projects. Recently, the city partnered up with Georgia Tech on a grant to monitor sea level rise with sensors. Over the next few years, the city hopes to convert more of the city’s fleet to electric cars. Savannah launched their urban tree nursery project to help with urban flooding impacts.

“It is very much on the forefront of the city’s mind in, 'how do we plan our infrastructure accordingly to really start to absorb some of these events and mitigate the impact,” said Nick Deffley, Sustainability Director, City of Savannah.

Meeting organizers said some city leaders are on board, but they want everyone working towards passing a resolution for the city to go to complete clean energy by 2030.

“But as far as the political leadership goes, I sense there isn’t much interest, but we are trying to change that,” Grainey said.

The Office of Sustainability and residents do agree on one thing: moving forward will be a group effort.

“Responding and preparing for and dealing with the impacts of climate change is not just a city responsibility. It is a full community responsibility, and everyone has to step up and take a role in that," Deffley said.

Climate Reality Project of Coastal Georgia, Center for Sustainable Coast, Citizens for Clean Air and Water, Dogwood Alliance, and the Unitarian Universalist Church Green Team will be organizing a candidate forum based on climate change. It will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. at 311 Harris Street in Savannah.

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