Audubon Florida is teaming up with ICLEI USA, Local Governments for Sustainability, and Florida universities with support from Wells Fargo to document carbon emissions in East Florida. Known as Greenhouse Gas Cohorts, teams collect critical carbon emissions data for cities and counties.
Through this program, students from Florida universities team up with staff from city and county governments to create GHG inventories for government operations in order to identify emissions within their departments and facilities. Greenhouse gases are emitted through fossil fuel burning. When they are released into the atmosphere, they trap heat, driving global climate change. Cities and counties can effectively reduce their emissions and thus their contribution to climate change if they have an inventory of their emissions to get started. With that baseline, they identify opportunities to reduce emissions and take steps toward regional climate action planning.
As part of the Greenhouse Gas Cohort, local governments work on the same timeline, creating momentum and collaborating as a region. Local governments also receive additional capacity from student interns, while the students contribute to meaningful work as they gain real-world experience for academic credit.
As the East Florida Cohort kicks off in July, local government staff will start meeting with an expert from ICLEI USA, Local Governments for Sustainability, to receive direction and guidance on how to gather data from different departments, including wastewater, solid waste, water, electricity, and more. Student partners are slated to join the local government staff in Fall.
Partner schools include Indian River State College, Florida Institute of Technology, Stetson University, and University of North Florida. As the year progresses, the student and local government pairs will participate in further training facilitated by ICLEI to complete their GHG inventories.
Audubon Florida has previously hosted two other regional GHG Cohorts. In 2021, Audubon Florida launched the state’s largest, simultaneous local government operation GHG inventory initiative in East Central Florida. The AF + R2C Cohort was co-facilitated by Audubon Florida, the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (R2C), and ICLEI. In this cohort, 18 local governments and 18 students from Stetson University, Florida Institute of Technology, and University of Central Florida were paired to complete a GHG inventory. The project team replicated the cohort in the Tampa Bay region in 2022 with 12 local governments and students from University of South Florida.
Audubon Florida continues to work with our cohort alumni to identify ongoing ways to collaborate as next steps in climate action planning are identified and developed. This year’s program would not be possible without the funding and support from our corporate partner, Wells Fargo.