COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, has quickly become a global health crisis, a pandemic. It deserves everyone’s full attention, collaboration and cooperation. I truly hope that you, your family, friends and co-workers are exercising extreme caution, are supporting one another, and are safe and healthy over the coming days and months.
Over the three years I have been with Dane County I have continuously been impressed by the County’s leadership, initiative, innovation and courage. My respect and pride have reached a high point in the past few weeks as I’ve observed how the County Executive and the leaders and implementers of the departments on the front lines of COVID-19 (e.g. Human Services, Emergency Management) work around the clock to protect the most vulnerable residents. Dane County recently allocated $150,000 to book 72 hotel rooms and provide meals to help protect homeless citizens from coming in contact with the virus.
Of course, there is another escalating global crisis that Dane County has also prioritized – climate change. Like COVID-19, climate change is claiming a growing number of human lives and threatens local and national economies. Both disproportionately affect the poorest and most oppressed individuals and communities. And most importantly, the impacts of both can be mitigated, not completely, but to a significant extent, if we work together as a community and make investments that help build our resiliency.
COVID-19 has created significant social and logistical challenges to our ability to release the Dane County Climate Action Plan (CAP) that I and many others have spent the last two and a half years developing. While COVID-19 has delayed the release of the CAP, this delay is temporary; and if anything, COVID-19 makes the CAP even more important for health, equity and economic reasons.
In the coming weeks and months the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change will prioritize those areas of the plan that offer climate solutions that create jobs, reduce energy costs, and improve public health for the most vulnerable citizens in Dane and surrounding counties. There are many good ideas in the CAP to make our communities stronger and more resilient. We are anxious to share the ideas in the CAP but we know there are many more ideas out there in the community and we would love to hear your ideas. Please follow Governor Evers recent emergency (Safer at Home) order, and if you find that you have time to reflect, please share your ideas for addressing climate change and increasing our resiliency, against climate change and other threats here.
Stay safe, be well.
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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