Local group pushes for climate change ordinance
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A group of students and activists from high schools to the campus of Notre Dame are working to fight climate change on a local level.
“I hope the community recognizes the importance of this,” said Julia McKenna, a senior at John Adams High School and a leader with the South Bend Climate Champions.
For five years McKenna has been passionate about climate change. She helped to create the South Bend Climate Champions within the last year.
“It’s a group of people from the local community who are really interested in seeing South Bend progress its climate change recovery policy,” said McKenna.
That group is pushing for an ordinance that would create climate change legislation in the city.
“What we’re looking for and hoping for is definitely setting goals. Realistic and aggressive goals for things like carbon neutrality, when we want to have net zero carbon emissions, how we want to reduce emissions in certain sectors,” said Jackie Brebeck, a Notre Dame Student who is part of South Bend Climate Champions.
She says those sectors include things like transportation or energy use.
“It would look like essentially a contract between the city government and the people of South Bend,” said McKenna. “It would be hopefully legally binding so that they have to take steps to reduce their carbon emissions so they can become more sustainable and help the city as a whole become more sustainable.”
While Washington D.C. talks climate change with the Green New Deal, these students feel they can get more accomplished by tackling the issue closer to home.
“On a municipal level, they could pass an ordinance by April,” said Tai Verbrugge, a Notre Dame Student also pushing for the climate change ordinance. “They could start cutting emissions within the next few months. They have the ability to move more quickly and with a lot more flexibility than congress might have.”
Julia McKenna agrees, “That’s where we personally have the most impact. As a senior in high school I don’t have a lot of connections to Washington but I know a lot of people in South Bend. So if I can do my part to impact the city government then hopefully on a national stage we can have some sort of progress.”
The group has held two meetings with the South Bend Common Council to push for changes.