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Kansas City-Area Coalition Working to Combat Climate Change

A coalition of Kansas City-area leaders is working to reduce the impact of climate change amid reports that the region could be among the hardest hit in the nation.

After an international group of scientists issued a climate report in October, Lindsey Constance, a councilwoman in the suburb of Shawnee, Kansas, teamed up with officials in Roeland Park, Kansas, for a December workshop, The Kansas City Star reported Monday. The workshop evolved into the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition.

The Weather Channel has ranked Kansas City fifth among 25 U.S. cities most likely to be affected by climate change, potentially facing higher temperatures as well as both extreme drought and heavier rains.

Constance said the concerning reports had her flipping ahead to 2030, when her now-8-year-old daughter will graduate from high school.

"To me it was terrifying to think about the fact that we might not have much of a hopeful future," she said.

The coalition is preparing to host a Climate Action Summit it hopes will draw up to 1,000 people in September. The coalition is made up of dozens of members from local municipalities, nonprofits and utility companies from both Kansas and Missouri. The group is in part preparing for the inevitable effects of climate change.

Roeland Park Mayor Michael Kelly said the issue requires a regional approach.

Strategies can include planting trees or promoting urban gardens to mitigate heat from asphalt and concrete. Municipalities could urge residents and businesses to consider "green" roofs, solar panels, LED lighting and other energy efficient practices. They could help companies transition to wind energy or other sustainable power.

Leaders also want climate action plans and legislative platforms imploring state and federal leaders to address the issue.

The stakes are high. The Climate Disruption Index study said Kansas City face "heat in the form of urban heat islands and extreme drought. The city will see 20 more days above 90 degrees than its rural counterparts, according to Climate Central, plus more drought in the coming years."

"While it's alarming to see KC ranked fifth," said Kelly, "I also know that KC is up for the challenge."

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