Audubon Florida announced the initiative, which will develop common sense baselines for greenhouse gas emissions for 18 visionary cities and counties in the region, in partnership with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (R2C), and local universities.
These baselines are a critical first step in helping local governments track the effectiveness of their efforts to improve energy efficiency in their own operations and shift to renewable energy sources over time. Both can result in cost savings to taxpayers and reduced emissions that contribute to climate change.
The municipal GHG inventories will assess the emissions produced by government operations in municipally-owned buildings, municipal fleet usage, and waste services, among others. Student fellows from University of Central Florida, Florida Institute of Technology, and Stetson University, are partnered with a representative from a participating city or county. Each fellow will provide important bandwidth for their assigned local government in developing the GHG inventory, while receiving specialized training from ICLEI, and experience in this growing field.
By understanding their municipal operations, local governments create a critical framework for local resiliency decisions to reduce emissions and maximize efficiency; student fellows earn valuable experience in project management, resilience planning, and municipal operations.
Audubon Florida is funding and co-facilitating the GHG inventories with the R2C and ICLEI as part of their commitment to strengthening climate resilience through science, innovation, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of Florida’s communities, ecosystems, and birds.
The East Central Florida Region is home to more than four million residents--approximately 20% of Florida’s population--and hosts over 60 million visitors annually. Housing one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, it’s no surprise it would be an incubator for this kind of innovative partnership.
“Florida’s local governments are seeing the impacts of our changing climate firsthand and are leading the way with this commitment to accountability and innovation,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “We are thrilled to partner on this work to accelerate sustainability, save taxpayer dollars, and make Florida communities more resilient...all while providing on-the-job training for the next generation of leaders in this field.”
What the Partners and Participants are Saying:
“The idea of little old me being able to make an impact on climate always seemed so out of reach, so when the opportunity to work with AF + R2C popped up, I didn't hesitate. My home country, Vietnam, is one of many to be directly affected by rising sea levels in the next few decades. While I might not be able to prevent that from happening, I look forward to not only learning new things, but being part of a greater collaborative effort to preserve our only home.”
--Jennifer Dang, inaugural student cohort participant, University of Central Florida.
"Having this opportunity with Audubon Florida means actually having an effect in the fight against climate change. I am so excited to figure out what steps can be taken to minimize our impact on the millions of organisms that call Florida home!"
--Mackenzie Daniels, inaugural student cohort participant, University of Central Florida.
“The East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (R2C) a program of the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, has worked to establish common sense baselines and a standardized approach for the first regionwide greenhouse gas inventory for east central Florida. This partnership with Audubon Florida amplifies the work and extends the reach of the inventory for greater collective impact."
--Jenifer Rupert, Resilience Officer, East Central Florida Regional Planning Council.
"Florida's municipalities are at the front lines of responding to the impacts of climate change, especially accelerating sea-level rise and more severe storms. But our local communities also have the opportunity to be international leaders in implementing innovative solutions that transform our energy systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon for the benefit of current and future generations. This collaborative effort is critically important for training our future leaders to identify those opportunities and to develop transformative innovations that will at once improve our environment, economy, and overall quality of life."
--Jason Evans, Executive Director, Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, Stetson University.
About the Partners:
East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (R2C) members include local governments, agencies and entities that serve the eight counties and municipalities of Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties. The R2C mission is to empower the communities in East Central Florida to advance regional resilience strategies that strengthen and protect the built infrastructure and natural environment, enhance health and equity, and ensure a thriving economy. ecfrpc.org/resiliencecollaborative
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 100+ countries, ICLEI influences sustainability policy and drives local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient, and circular development. icleiusa.org
Audubon Florida has worked to protect birds and the places they need in Florida for 120 years, advancing common sense solutions grounded in strong science. fl.audubon.org
University of Central Florida
Florida Institute of Technology