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Polk County supervisors approve resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%


The Polk County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from county operations by 90% by the year 2040.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a resolution adopting a Climate Action Plan, which will be integrated into the county’s planning, processes, training and budgeting, when possible.

Supervisor Steve Van Oort was the lone vote against the resolution. He did not offer a comment during the meeting and did not respond to a request to comment later in the day.

The resolution also calls for the creation of a Climate Action Team, made up of people from across county departments who will work with an energy consulting firm on an energy audit. The team will make policy recommendations to the board, lead the implementation of the plan, and track and report progress back to the board.

The vote Tuesday follows the Des Moines City Council’s adoption of a resolution in January calling for all of the city’s homes and businesses to run on 100% clean energy by 2035.

In its resolution, the Board of Supervisors cited the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which acknowledges the influence humans have on climate change.

The resolution also identifies the effects of climate change in Iowa, including extreme weather events, increased flooding, drought, higher temperatures and the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho.

It also cites the economic effect of climate change, particularly on low-income households because of increased costs of food, water, energy and health care.

The Sierra Club issued a statement responding to the board’s approval of the resolution, calling it a “great step forward.”

“Despite all the challenges of this year, and on the heels of Des Moines passing the strongest clean energy standard at the start of 2021, these leaders know climate cannot wait,” said Katie Rock, a representative of the Sierra Club’s Iowa Beyond Coal campaign. “The steps the county will begin taking towards this goal will make Polk county a resilient place to live in the face of climate change.”

In the statement, Rock also called on the county to push for the retirement of coal power in Iowa.

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