The City of Plattsburgh Awarded Bronze Certified Climate Smart Community
In early October 2023, the City of Plattsburgh became a bronze-certified Climate Smart Community, which recognizes the City’s efforts to take climate action. This certification is part of the New York State’s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program. Plattsburgh joins the few communities on the New York portion of Lake Champlain basin who have received this certification.
Local governments experience first-hand the detrimental impacts of climate change on their basic services, infrastructure, housing, human livelihoods, and health. The New York State Climate Smart Community program provides guidance to help local governments tackle climate change.
This free and voluntary program lays out specific actions local governments can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve community resilience to the impacts of climate change. The program is based on a points system where the more actions completed leads to more points earned. Some of the actions, seen as fundamental to the success of the program, are worth more points than others. A bronze certification means a community has earned a minimum number of points and completed some of the most important actions of the program.
Since joining the program in 2019, the City has worked towards a greener Plattsburgh (see figure). For example, the City has estimated how much greenhouse gas is emitted from its operations such as the heating of municipal buildings or the use of municipal fleet vehicles. The next step is to develop a Climate Action plan that identifies strategies to reduce those emissions. The plan is to be completed by the end of the year. The City has also completed its comprehensive plan, a document that provides a vision of the City in ten to twenty years and balances the needs for the environment, economy, and equity. Through this process, the City has continuously received support from the Climate Smart Communities Regional Coordinator, Carlie Leary, and Local Coordinator, Rachelle Armstrong.
Community involvement is at the core of the CSC program. Like other municipalities in the program, Plattsburgh has a climate task force, a group of volunteers that advises and collaborates with the local government to accomplish actions outlined in the CSC program. Residents, board members, representatives from local organizations, and businesses can all be task force members.
“The task force is an invaluable asset to the City, assisting in the advance of its sustainability goals" said Rachelle Armstrong, who currently leads Plattsburgh’s Climate Task Force. "These dedicated volunteers from different walks of live have logged hundreds of hours, researching and encouraging actions and educating the public.”
Lake Champlain Sea Grant has contributed to the outreach and education efforts of the Task Force. “While many people are concerned about climate change, it often feels like a taboo topic" says Aude Lochet, water resources outreach specialist with Lake Champlain Sea Grant. "But engaging the public in conversations about the climate is critical. It is the first step to empower people to take action.”
The bronze certification is the first milestone in the CSC program. Now, the City is working towards the silver certification!
Lake Champlain Sea Grant hosted a webinar on local climate action and how to participate in New York State’s Climate Smart Community program. Check the Climate Smart Communities website to find out if your community is part of this program and visit Plattsburgh’s Climate Task Force webpage to learn more about the City of Plattsburgh’s efforts!