What is the Grand Rapids Climate Coalition?
The Grand Rapids Climate Coalition is a growing alliance of individuals, community groups, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, faith groups, businesses, and educational institutions. We have come together for this goal: for Grand Rapids to achieve community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030, prioritizing equity and climate justice. We want strong, equitable action in Grand Rapids against climate change and for a better shared future.
Okay, but what does climate change have to do with me? Is it really that big a problem?
Climate change impacts everyone and almost everything: food, health care, air and water quality, transportation, your house or apartment, your job and the economy. Without strong action Michigan will have many more weather disasters (especially extreme heat waves and flooding), crop failures, food shortages, fires, and insect-borne disease outbreaks. The quality of our air and water will continue to decline and the Great Lakes will have increasing levels of dangerous bacteria and native fish species could be threatened. Climate change can make groceries, utilities, and housing cost more and force out our lower-income neighbors as rich folks flee here from climate disaster locations. Some of this is already happening in the United States. It will happen more and more in Michigan. All of us will be affected; many of us already are.
The good news is that addressing climate change also gives us an opportunity. When we implement equitable climate solutions, we can improve our community’s quality of life, health, and justice at the same time, making Grand Rapids a better place to live for all of us.
Why is it important for our elected officials to take strong action?
All across the nation, cities, counties, and states are taking action to solve climate change. Like most communities, Grand Rapids has not done enough. Even with its historical and current commitments, the city must do more. We need new ways of doing things that will make life better for all of us. We especially need to make life better for people who suffer the most from climate change and whose voices are usually not heeded: frontline communities of color and poor communities. We must improve air quality, reduce housing costs through improved energy efficiency and renewables, expand the tree canopy, and remove toxic materials like lead from our homes, water, and the land.
What are our immediate priorities?
Grand Rapids must commit to community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030. We are already playing catch up after decades of ignoring the reality that burning oil, coal and gas for energy produces gasses that trap too much of the sun’s heat in our atmosphere. We are in a climate emergency and our city must take this seriously..
There is no time to waste. Our community, and communities across the country, need to see bold climate leadership from our local, state, and federal government.
OUR TOP 5 PRIORITIES
Right now, our work is centered on these priorities:
1) A community-wide carbon reduction goal;
2) Influencing the City's Master Planning process;
3) Identifying high impact projects for federal
funding (such as community solar);
4) Increasing community engagement, with emphasis on BIPOC communities and youth, and expansion to all of Kent County;
5) Strengthening ties with other groups and members.
I'm ready to do something. But why join this group?
Change comes when residents organize together across shared concerns. When your organization joins this coalition [link to correct contact page], or you as an individual get involved, your power combines with hundreds of individuals and 70 organizations. (A full list is on the "Member Organizations" page.)
The Grand Rapids Climate Coalition uses the power of the community so that our elected officials have to listen. We work to represent the voices and concerns of the wider Grand Rapids community. Our diversity and shared goals are our strengths.
How was the Coalition formed?
The Grand Rapids Climate Coalition was started by the group Grand Rapids Climate Action. Grand Rapids Climate Action was formed in 2019 as a small grassroots organization dedicated to working for community climate solutions (GRCA has since merged into the Coalition and no long exists as a separate organization). GRCA determined that Grand Rapids could make the most positive impact by joining the growing worldwide movement of cities to declare a Climate Emergency and commit to community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030. So, GRCA decided to form a coalition of local organizations and businesses to build community support for such goals.
What is now the Grand Rapids Climate Coalition was born.
We spent several months building the initial cohort of member groups, which began meeting in February 2021. Our membership has grown and our goals have evolved, but we maintain our commitment to a just and equitable process. Early on we developed and implemented basic bylaws, elected officers, and created working groups to maximize participation opportunities.
How does the Coalition operate? How can I contribute?
GR Climate is committed to remaining a volunteer-driven, grassroots organization. Although we have a volunteer leadership team, decision-making on major matters is shared among coalition members and leadership is expanded as more people become engaged with our work. We welcome the active participation and support of all community members who share our goal: for Grand Rapids to achieve community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030, prioritizing equity and climate justice.
We hold virtual coalition meetings at 4pm on every 1st and 3rd Monday afternoon of the month. Interested community members are welcome to join these meetings; please express your interest via our 'Contact Us' form.
For ways you can push with us for change, please sign up for our newsletter and connect with us on social media for the latest updates and action items.
Amy Rogghe, PA, and Tabitha Williams from Parents for Healthy Homes discuss the Public Health risks that come with unmitigated climate change and pollution
Father Mike from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and Kathi from APRI and GR Proactive discuss how their communities care about making Grand Rapids a climate leader