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Gainesville’s Climate Action Plan draft expected by end of year

Mayor Harvey Ward led the City Commission regular meeting on Feb. 15. He stressed the importance of funding for the Climate Action Plan. (Bryce Mitchell/WUFT News)
Mayor Harvey Ward led the City Commission regular meeting on Feb. 15. He stressed the importance of funding for the Climate Action Plan. (Bryce Mitchell/WUFT News)

Correction appended: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Dan Zhu's title as the director of the city's Wild Spaces and Public Places project. She is instead its chief climate officer. We regret the error.

Gainesville’s City Commission received an update on the city’s Climate Action Plan during the regular meeting on Feb. 15. The plan involves curbing Gainesville’s carbon footprint, among others, with a final draft outlining details expected by the end of the year.

Dr. Dan Zhu, the city's chief climate officer, presented the progress of the Climate Action Plan. “We have made significant progress so far,” Zhu said.

There are five drafted plans. The Zero Waste ordinance is in the implementation phase and they secured four funding opportunities to support their activities.

Zhu said that there are two main components for the action plan: greenhouse gas inventory and vulnerability analysis.

Gainesville previously set a goal to be net-zero on greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

“Our current biggest contribution to our city’s current emission is coming from the energy, transportation and waste,” Zhu said.

Dr. Dan Zhu heads Wild Spaces and Public Places and gave a positive progress update on the Climate Action Plan for the city of Gainesville. (Bryce Mitchell/WUFT News)
Dr. Dan Zhu is the city's chief climate officer and gave a positive progress update Thursday on the city's Climate Action Plan. (Bryce Mitchell/WUFT News)

Based on this data, a framework was developed to focus on 10 areas: five areas on mitigation and five on adaptation.

For mitigation, that includes transportation, energy use, waste, water and local government operations. On the adaptation side, the focus will be on the extreme heat, food system plan, equitable community engagement, climate dashboard and modeling and funding resource allocation.

Zhu highlighted a transportation emission plan that will be a joint effort between GRU, UF Transportation and the county. Currently there are four electric RTS buses and the goal is to have 80% low or zero-emission bus fleet by 2045.

A health plan has taken shape too, after Zhu communicated with eight other cities with similar concerns. Together they identified three priorities: warning system improvement, home cooling and public cooling.

The final update from Zhu was a food system plan. “According to our survey, food insecurity is one of the major concerns in our community,” Zhu said. This food plan's priorities are promoting healthy bites for all; waste not, want lots; grow and show, and economy and gastronomy.

Commissioner Ed Book told Zhu that it would be beneficial to keep the question about what the city is gaining monetarily with these efforts in mind through this developmental process.

Commissioner Reina Saco asked Zhu if the plans are on track to meet the mentioned dates and Zhu said there is positive progress but there are challenges. She will address those challenges in the next update, which is three months from now.

Bryce is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.