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Page last updated on October 10, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Opening Remarks

Welcome and thank you for being here. The first regional climate convening in our history. We have an exciting afternoon ahead, with excellent speakers and panelists, and your discussions on critical issues. Thank Mayor Lienhoop, friends from Brown County, Tom Linebarger, panelists, and co-sponsors…. 


First an acknowledgement as we gather. We recognize that the city of Bloomington sits on Native land. Our city and this area are on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people, and we acknowledge they are past, present, and future caretakers of this land. 


We also acknowledge that much of the economic progress and development in  our region and Indiana resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Color - specifically enslaved African labor. 


We acknowledge that this land remains home to and a site of gathering and healing for many indigenous and other people of color and commit to the work necessary to create and promote more equitable and just communities.


We are wrestling today with one of the great questions of our time: Will we preserve and sustain our places to live and thrive on our planet? Community by community. Country by country, and on this whole planet. It is our great challenge, to and address face this climate emergency. 


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (goo tehr ez) opened last month’s 2022 UN General Debate imploring all those present to “lift your climate ambition. Listen to your people’s calls for change. Invest in solutions that lead to sustainable economic growth.” The UN noted that climate change – the global emergency – is an issue that requires coordinated solutions at all levels. We’re honing in on that ‘coordinated solutions at all levels’ today.


You’ll hear shortly from experts. We know that Indiana will get hotter, and experience more droughts, and more downpours and severe storms. We’re already seeing it. We should expect climate migration too. People moving within the state and country, and across the globe, due to climate change. (This last implicates a second great challenge to us all, of inclusion and equity – how we assure that our communities and planet work for everyone, and have a place, and decent living options for everyone.)


On climate, the decade of the 2020s is pivotal. Coming out of a global pandemic and brutal recession, how will we navigate? Will we Build Back Better? Recover Forward? By 2030 will we have pivoted into a sustainable future, using what we learned about how to change during the pandemic and recession, to address the emergency of climate change? 


It is humbling to see the great talent and wisdom and potential assembled here, that knows so much about climate and adaptation and mitigation. That could do so much to deal with the profound challenges ahead of us in our corner of Indiana and the world. 


I do not know what we can and should do, precisely and in detail. No one of us does. I believe our city has taken several important steps recently: adopting our first Climate Action Plan that specifies scores of ambitious goals and actions. We have funded that plan annually with $1.6MM for its implementation. And we added nearly $4MM annually for public transit enhancements/transformations. We’re continuing our Recover Forward efforts with investments in solar, and building efficiencies, and affordable housing, and non-vehicle paths and trails, and launching our Transportation Demand Management program, Go Bloomington, and more. 


But all these efforts are just the beginning and surely we will get smarter and more efficient at all this. I believe we do know at least two things now: first, we are going to be dealing with this issue of climate change for a long, long time; effectively forever, and the sooner we grapple with it the better. And second, we know we will be more successful if we do all this work together - collaborating, learning, cooperating across institutions and sectors, and geographies. 


Perhaps we should note a third thing too – very important federal opportunities lie ahead of us as well, right now, in the immediate future. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act are steering hundreds of billions of dollars into issues related to climate change. Surely local areas like ours are in a better place to access that leverage if we are dealing proactively and collaboratively on the underlying issues.


That is what today is about. It’s about working together, now, and going forward, to meet the extraordinary challenges, and opportunities, of climate change. Thank you for being here. It’s the right place to be on October 4, 2022. We have several important hours ahead of us. Let’s get to work to chart a better path forward.


Closing Remarks

First ever climate convening we’re aware of here. Let’s hope we look back on this, and say it started something. And more than hope, let’s take actions so that next time we gather we can build on the progress of what we start here today


Hope we might create ongoing efforts together. Green Ribbon Panel or such? Regular meetings? Staffing? Goals, accountability. Progress.


No Planet B. No community B either. This is it, and it’s ours, and we better take care of it and each other. Great opportunities for innovation and improvements. Sincerely believe when we pursue and address sustainability, we improve community. Just like when we pursue and address inclusion and equity, we improve communities. These are the right things to do, and they will make our future brighter.


Click here for more information about the Regional Climate Convening. 


Mayor John Hamilton & Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop
Mayor John Hamilton & Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop