Environment

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will commemorate Earth Day on Friday by signing a compact that commits the city to reducing greenhouse gases to address climate change.

Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter confirmed Fischer’s plans to sign the compact tomorrow but said he would let the Mayor speak for himself during the signing ceremony.

The Compact of Mayors is an initiative begun in 2014 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. It’s a network of cities around the world — including several Louisville peer cities like Birmingham, Charlotte, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and Pittsburgh — that have agreed to take a transparent approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resistance to climate change.

By signing the document tomorrow, Fischer is committing Louisville to:

  • Reducing local greenhouse gas emissions
  • Measuring community greenhouse gas emissions
  • Setting data-based targets for future emissions
  • Developing climate action plans to deliver on city targets
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change
  • Identifying climate hazards
  • Assessing the community’s vulnerability to climate change
  • Developing climate adaptation plans

This isn’t the first time Louisville has signed documents committing to addressing climate change.

The city has been a signatory to the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement since 2005. Then-mayor Jerry Abramson signed the document, and Fischer renewed the city’s commitment on his first day in office in 2011. That agreement commits Louisville to striving to “meet or beat” the targets set by the international Kyoto Protocol.

It’s also been seven years since Louisville published its Climate Action Report — a document that has largely gathered cobwebs.

Climate advocates like Barry Zalph of the Louisville Climate Action Network were cautiously enthusiastic about the news that Fischer plans to sign the compact. Zalph said the compact is unique because it contains concrete steps cities have to take to live up to the commitment.

“Basically, if you satisfy this, you’re really doing something substantive,” Zalph said.

But he noted that Fischer signing the plan will have to be backed up with action — and money — lest it turn into yet another well-meaning effort with no teeth.

The compact requires compiling a detailed emissions inventory.

“That’s going to take some staff time and some money, that’s going to have to go into a budget. And then once we have these numbers, we’re going to have to come up with emissions reduction targets, sector by sector,” Zalph said. “The mayor’s personal commitment on a continuing basis is going to be essential to the city having success with this.”

Fischer will sign the compact Friday morning at an event at the Crescent Hill Library.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.