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Climate advocacy groups hold local candidate forum

Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia
The library will host the climate forum and will include questions about the energy efficiency programs for low-income residents and the climate crisis in schools.
Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia

City council and school board candidates will answer questions about the climate crisis affecting Columbia at a forum on Feb. 21. The forum will be held at Columbia Public Library in the Friends room.

MU Student Riley Cole spoke at the Columbia city council meeting on Feb. 19, noting that 13 out of 161 climate goals have been completed over five years.

Second Ward candidate Robert Schreiber said the city’s lack of progress on climate goals is shocking.

“We have to start transitioning to a green energy economy. I mean, it's a no-brainer for me. I know there's certain political groups that do not see it as a problem right now,” Schreiber said. “But I think they're wrong because all the science points to otherwise.”

Schreiber will attend Wednesday’s forum where climate advocacy groups have prepared questions that were given to the candidates in advance. They include questions about energy efficiency programs for low-income residents and addressing the climate crisis in schools.

Lisa Meyer is the other candidate for the Second Ward. She says she will not be attending the climate forum.

The forum will feature city council candidates first at 5:30 p.m., and school board candidates will start answering questions at 6:35 p.m.

Climate Leaders at Mizzou, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, Renew Missouri and the Sierra Club Mid-Missouri Group are the event co-sponsors.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Director Mark Haim said climate change must be addressed at every level of government, which includes bodies like the city council and the school board.

“We want to hear from the candidates where they stand. But we want to encourage them to recognize the urgency of dealing with climate change, and to address it by enacting policies,” Haim said.

Last year was Earth’s hottest year on record. Scientists say if emissions continue at the same pace, extreme weather will only get worse. Last summer, Columbia baked under triple-digit temperatures.

Haim said 43% of Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity, but he says cutting emissions down is doable. According to Haim, more efficient cooling and heating for homes, better appliances and replacing coal with wind and solar on Columbia’s grid could all help the city cut down. That grid includes Columbia Public Schools and their energy footprint, which involves buildings, facilities, and student and employee transportation.

“We all benefit from cleaner air, we benefit from a more stable climate, we benefit from having a vibrant economy. Addressing climate change creates jobs. Addressing climate change creates an economy that's resilient,” Haim said.

Laine Cibulskis is a second-year student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and economics with an emphasis on data and investigative reporting.
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