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Omaha experts call on city to create climate change action plan

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Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Dr. David Corbin has been waiting for the City of Omaha to move on an idea to bring the region together to create something no one else has: a truly metro climate action plan.

The keyword for many we spoke to is action. We’ve seen the data, we’re willing to talk about it, so what’s the plan?

SPECIAL REPORT: Last week the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report written by hundreds of leading scientists showing it is “now or never” for worldwide action to avert climate disaster.

Challenges from climate change are also faced in the Heartland.

6 News is reporting a series of stories this week leading up to Earth Day on Friday, April 22. Watch for more reports this week on WOWT and WOWT.com.

”Of the top 50 cities in the United States, 35 of them have climate action plans. Omaha is one of the 15 that doesn’t have it,” said Dr. David Corbin, UNO emeritus professor of health education.

Omaha officials are looking for comparisons and opportunities to collaborate.

”What we’re looking at in this plan is really to help unify not only the cities’ efforts, the communities’ efforts, but to see how all our other partners are doing and see how our efforts can complement theirs,” said Kevin Andersen, Omaha Mayor’s Office deputy chief of staff.

But Corbin points out that while OPPD has a net-zero carbon plan for 2050 and city core development plans call for more centralized zero-carbon transit, the science demands action now.

Omaha doesn’t even have requests for proposals out meaning it will be 18- to 24-months before a plan might be considered.

”We can do it, other cities have done it, they’re doing it now, they’re doing a better job than Omaha’s doing, and we need to get Omaha moving,” Corbin said.

One of those cities is Lincoln. Their climate action plan was adopted in 2021.

“They have articulable steps outlined that different districts. And portions of the municipality can move forward with the university has a safe sustainability plan and often it’s those local solutions that are the best and most meaningful because you can come together as a group and decide what’s the best path forward among the shared common goals,” said Martha Shulski, Nebraska state climatologist.

With budget approval for a new Nebraska climate study, Shulski’s office will have updated data to work with by 2024.

But until those studies are done and the plans are in place, Corbin said don’t sit around and wait.

“Listen to political candidates and see if they even talk about the climate. See if they have any kind of plans for what they’re gonna do for the world and the future of our planet — and vote for people who are on this issue and will help to pass some of these policies,” he said.

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