Achieving Climate Goals at the Local Level

The Community Climate Solutions Team (CCST) began actively operating in January 2020. We hold monthly meetings to which our 100+ members are invited, where they can learn about the work of our various Community Working Groups and help plan new initiatives. Learn more about how our Community Working Groups are achieving their goals below!

Our Climate Action Mapping Project launched in spring 2021 with the goal of creating a web-based resource that helps organizations (including nonprofits, businesses, and municipalities) and individuals interested in a particular climate-related issue find like-minded others in our community and learn what initiatives are already under way. As of September 2021, we have established a strong collaboration with the Climate Action Mapping Project Bay Area and are still in the design phase of our project. We believe our online “mapping technology” will encourage collaboration and innovation, while breaking down barriers to climate action. If you are interested in helping realize these goals, please complete the CCST interest form here.
We waited to launch our Dane County Community Working Group until April 2020, when the county released its Climate Action Plan, which includes some 110 proposed actions! To strategically choose which of these actions to focus on, we interviewed top-level Dane County officials, elected supervisors, and key climate leaders in the county. Our Agricultural Policies and Practice group is very active at this time. We also are pursuing action on beneficial electrification and reducing food waste. If you are interested in participating in one of these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.
The Fitchburg Community Working Group has advocated for policies that help reduce climate change. For example, in 2020 we supported the Common Council decision to increase the amount of solar energy used to run city operations. The city added solar energy from the O’Brien Solar Farm, increasing clean energy from 18% to more than 34%. Likewise, in 2021 we spoke in favor of an alder’s budget amendment to allocate $20,000/year to increase the percentage of electric or hybrid vehicles in the Fitchburg fleet. We also spoke in favor of an alder’s proposal to power all city pump and lift stations with solar power. Most recently, we pressured a developer proposing senior housing in the Terravessa neighborhood to include solar and other sustainability features. If you are interested in joining us, please complete the CCST interest form here.
We established the Local Content Engagement group in September 2021. Our goal is to create content for use on all of 350 Madison’s community-facing channels designed to educate, recruit, and promote all that CCST is doing to improve the region’s climate outcomes. Among our communication channels are a Podcast series that features local changemakers and officials describing how they are making Madison more sustainable; contributions to 350 Madison’s blog, and infographics and visuals for use on social media, the 350 Madison “Action Update” newsletter, and anywhere else where lively and timely content can more effectively share our messages. Are you interested in creating content through a climate lens? If yes, please complete the CCST interest form here.
In June 2020, the Madison Community Working Group completed our first project — helping the city pass its tougher stormwater ordinance. Then in October 2020, we garnered citizen support to help pass Madison’s Electric Vehicle Readiness Ordinance. We used our Action Participation List, social media, and blog posts to raise awareness and urge our climate-concerned citizens to ask their alders to support these ordinances.In January 2021, we formed the Alder Elections team, which interviewed nearly every alder candidate in the City of Madison about their plans for helping the city meet its stated climate goals. This team worked with WORT Radio to include climate-focused questions during on-air radio debates, thus helping both citizens and candidates become more aware of and engaged with the critically important climate issues in Madison.

In April 2021, we presented the City of Madison’s Mayor’s Office with two research-based memos to help the office act on the city’s stated goal of encouraging the owners of large buildings to benchmark their energy use, with the understanding that this would lead these building owners to reduce emissions.

In May 2021, one of our interns created a Green Certified Buildings in Wisconsin map and guide and shared it with the City of Madison Plan Commission. Did you know that Madison doesn’t even rank in the top five cities in the state with regard to green buildings per capita? The city needs to improve, and we are committed to shining a light on the areas that need improvement.

In August 2021, we published our case study-based Green Building Incentive Programs report. We produced this report to spur the planning departments in Madison and surrounding communities to use incentives to reward developers who use green building practices, during a time when our state legislature has made it illegal for municipalities to exceed the state’s outdated building codes.

We organize our members (including high school and college students, young professionals, parents, and many older citizens) into project groups that build relationships with our city’s alders and broadcast information and stories about recent projects. Prior to taking action, each of these groups seeks advice from key climate leaders in the community on how to proceed strategically.

We are always encouraging our members to take on new projects and volunteer their time on existing ones. If you are a Madison resident who wants to help with these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.

The Middleton Community Working Group has engaged in multiple initiatives to help our city’s officials advance policies and decisions that reduce climate change. We frequently provide public comment at city council and other municipal meetings, publish articles in local media, and meet individually with the mayor, mayoral candidates, alders, and city staff. Our alder engagement project assigns volunteers to specific elected officials to sustain communication about climate issues. We also participated in the Middleton Sustainability Committee to propose revisions for the energy and greenhouse gas chapters of our city’s Sustainability Plan.Our greener golf course and fleet electrification projects made initial inroads with staff. However, these efforts must continue in order to overcome concerns about new technology, capital budget limits, and planning cycle constraints. With additional volunteers, these and other projects focused on idling, bike advocacy, and solar energy will build on our promising initial discussions with city staff. If you are a resident of Middleton who would like to help with these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.

In close collaboration with other groups across 350 Madison, CCST has been advocating hard at the state level for policy change designed to reduce climate-warming emissions. We participate because state-level energy production and efficiency policies are hampering local government efforts to achieve climate goals.Our work includes an extensive set of recommendations, submitted in summer 2020 on behalf 350 Madison, to the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change; recommendations submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in summer 2020 for improving its draft Strategic Energy Assessment; and participation as of spring 2021 as an intervenor in the PSC’s “Roadmap to Zero Carbon Investigation” docket. In addition, our group routinely submits comments to state representatives and senators and the PSC in support of policies that move the state toward reducing emissions from the energy sector. We are engaging officials who are considering adopting an updated state-level building code and interacting with state leaders as we plan a campaign intended to get the State of Wisconsin Investment Board to divest their extensive holdings in fossil fuel industries.

If you are interested in influencing state policy in ways that reduce carbon emissions, please complete the CCST interest form here.

Although the launch of the UW–Madison Community Working Group was slowed by the COVID campus shutdown, we began by developing a list of key climate action players at UW–Madison and across Wisconsin’s four-year university and technical college systems. We used this list to launch our “climate-aware Get Out The Vote (GOTV)” initiative, which went into high gear during summer 2020. Our climate-aware GOTV work used both digital and socially distant in-person events to provide students with detailed information about voter registration, absentee ballot voting, and so forth, and to highlight the connections between climate change, social/racial justice, and climate resilience. If you are interested in participating in these projects, please complete the CCST interest form here.