What is the Grand Rapids Climate Coalition?
The Grand Rapids Climate Coalition is a growing alliance of 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 threatens everyone. Climate change is the one issue that impacts almost everything: food, health care, air and water quality, transportation, your house or apartment, your job and the economy. If we do nothing, 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 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.
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. So far, Grand Rapids has not done enough. 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.
What are we asking the City Commission to adopt?
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 gases 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.
We are asking that the Grand Rapids City Commission commit to not just carbon neutrality for municipal buildings, but for residential and commercial as well. We are asking that they center equity and justice throughout this work and that they reach these goals by 2030 rather than 2040.
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.
Okay, this sounds good. But who’s going to listen to my group?
It’s not just you or your group. It’s your group joined with dozens of others. (A full list is on the "Member Organizations" page.) The Climate Coalition uses the power of the community so that our elected officials will 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?
Grand Rapids Climate Action was formed in 2019 as a small grassroots organization dedicated to working for community climate solutions. GRCA determined that the most impact Grand Rapids could make would be to join the growing 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 recruiting the initial cohort of member groups, which began meeting in February 2021. Our commitment is to a just and equitable process, so we developed and implemented basic bylaws, elected officers, and created working groups to maximize participation opportunities. GRCC is committed to remaining volunteer-driven, grassroots organizations with minimal infrastructure. Administration and decision-making is shared 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.
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 St Andrew and Kathi from APRI and GR Proactive, discuss how their communities care about making Grand Rapids a climate leader