Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Creating a Climate Action Plan



Keith Reopelle
Creating a science-based county-wide, economy-wide Climate Action Plan (CAP) that can get us on a path to deep decarbonization is a big task. Really. It's the sort of thing that can keep you up at night--trust me, I know. Luckily I didn't have to do this task alone. One of the great things about Dane County is the people and A LOT of people contributed to our soon-to-be-released CAP. In so many ways the CAP already belongs to the people of Dane County because so many people helped to create the CAP.

Of course a plan is just the first step. Our CAP provides a path to deep decarbonization but it's a map--so a lot depends on what happens next.

When I first joined the Office of Energy & Climate Change almost three years ago, I thought of our work in two big phases: first, we need to create the CAP and then, second, we needed to implement it.

In the last year I've realized there's a third phase that comes between planning and implementation--and it's the phase that starts now, as we release the CAP.

Our top priority in the near term is public engagement. We want to be sure everyone in Dane County has an opportunity to learn about the CAP, share their ideas for how we can best achieve the ambitious goals identified and co-create the programs needed to implement it. That means we'll be on the road a lot and it means we'll spend a lot of time listening.

We've a couple of big objectives in this engagement:

  • We want to hear your thoughts and ideas. How is climate change affecting you? What have you already done to reduce your emissions? What ideas do you have for us?
  • We want to build partnerships. Dane County is blessed with a population of problem solvers. That means there are alraedy a lot of innovative things going on around the county--efforts to accelerate clean energy, efforts to increase health and equity. Our aim is to do things that complement and strengthen existing efforts--which means we need to learn about those existing efforts.
  • We want everyone to own this plan. This is an ambitious plan and we know we'll only get it done if we do it together--which means the plan needs to belong to all of us.

Yes, that's an ambitious list. But then it was ambitious for us to create our CAP. We're ambitious because we see the potential in Dane County. We know that our county is well poised to lead on climate issues, that we can show others how addressing climate change is an opportunity to:

  • Increase the County’s commitment to equity and justice

  • Deliver economic benefits to all parties

  • Improve health and wellness of all residents

  • Increase our ability to adapt and be resilient to a changing climate

  • Bridge the rural and urban divide, creating solutions that work for everyone in the county

  • Enhance our natural environments, delivering ecosystem benefits

As we get ready to launch the CAP I can't help but reflect on all the people who helped get us to this point and how truly grateful I feel.  And I'm excited about the many more people who will engage with the plan and help us make the plan reality.

Keith Reopelle

Keith Reopelle


Keith is the Director of Dane County’s Office of Energy and Climate Change. In that role he's the lead author of the forthcoming Climate Action Plan. Prior to coming to Dane County, he was the Senior Policy Director at Clean Wisconsin where he led clean energy campaigns at the state and regional levels.


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The Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change maintains this blog as a way to offer:

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