March 25 County Commission meeting will set critical first step for ensuring safer, more equitable, healthier, and more prosperous communities in the future
Pontiac, Michigan — Today, a coalition of environmental, conservation and community groups known collectively as the Oakland County Climate Campaign (also known by the slogan ‘turn Oakland County green’) applauded Oakland County Executive David Coulter and the Oakland County Commission for taking the first step toward fighting climate change by pledging to hire a chief sustainability officer, committing to develop a community-wide sustainability plan and a plan to conduct an energy audit of its own facilities and operations.
Since launching in February 2020, the Oakland County Climate Campaign has advocated for Oakland County Commissioners to develop a sustainability office and set robust climate goals. The initiatives announced by the Commission today include key elements of the Oakland County Climate Campaign’s platform, that outlines a vision for the county’s future.
Throughout the campaign, coalition members have engaged hundreds of grassroots volunteers in educational webinars, meetings with commissioners, community presentations, and public comments to push for the goals outlined in the platform.
According to the announcement, these steps are in furtherance of a county pledge to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions throughout the county by 2050, a commitment that echoes the Oakland County Climate Campaign’s proposals. The coalition looks forward to working with county leaders on implementing other actions to achieve the critical pledge by 2050, including expanding energy efficiency improvements for low-income homeowners, expanding the availability of attractive public transit, and ensuring the use of clean, renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.
The Oakland County Climate Campaign provided the following statements:
“Oakland County is positioned to be a regional and state leader among municipal governments taking action to protect the health of our communities and create good-paying jobs,” said Londell Thomas, political director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We know the real impacts of extreme weather events in Oakland County — from flooded farm fields and basements to frequent power outages and even a winter Polar Vortex. This is no longer tomorrow’s issue and we must take action now. We look forward to working with the Commission on this bold sustainability plan that will lower energy costs and create jobs for all Oakland County residents.”
“This is an important start toward ensuring the health and well-being of Oakland County residents. It is just as important to center equity at the heart of our sustainability plans to ensure we don’t sustain inequality,” said Kimathi Boothe, climate justice chair for the North Oakland Branch of the NAACP.
“We’re thrilled that these developments have been announced,” said Andrew Sarpolis, an organizer for the Oakland County Climate Campaign and the Sierra Club. “The road ahead is a long one, and this is just the first step on a path towards equity, good jobs, and long-term sustainability. However, this demonstrates that we’re moving in the right direction; it shows that grassroots volunteers can make a difference. Now, we must focus on ensuring that our climate solutions are equitable and use renewable energy, not fossil fuels.”
“The Michigan Climate Action Network tracks and supports the implementation of climate action plans across Michigan. We are excited to welcome Oakland County to the group of local leaders who are moving the fight for climate action forward in our state. This announcement means that the foundation has been placed for a robust action plan for the county. We look forward to working with Oakland County to make sure equity, justice, and jobs are at the forefront of the region’s climate response,” said Jamie Simmons, MICAN’s Engagement Director.
“As young organizers, Sunrise Movement Oakland County is well aware of the danger climate change poses to the future. Immediate action is essential to fighting climate change, and it is optimistic to see Oakland County taking action. We hope this is just the beginning of Oakland County’s path to an environmentally just and equitable future,” said Heather Chen, a high schooler and member of the Oakland County Sunrise Movement.
“We applaud this commitment and these vital first steps, said Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United (TRU). “Transportation produces fully a third of climate pollution so it will be essential for a decrease in personal driving and an expansion of sustainable transportation options be a major part of this plan. This will not only mean lower pollution, but also greater access to opportunities for our elders, workers, people with disabilities, and the whole county.”
About the Oakland County Climate Campaign
The Oakland County Climate Campaign is a grassroots partnership of advocacy organizations, environmental groups, and volunteers who are committed to a healthy, equitable, and thriving environment for Oakland County. We work to improve the county’s environmental outcomes through educational programs and citizen engagement. The Oakland County Climate Campaign is a project of the North Oakland Branch of the NAACP, Michigan Clean Water Action, Oakland County Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, Transportation Riders United, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Michigan Climate Action Network, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Rochester Riders, and more. For additional information, visit www.turnoaklandcountygreen.com.