City Climate Corner explores how small and mid-sized cities are tackling climate change and moving toward an equitable and sustainable future.

Co-hosted by Abby Finis and Larry Kraft.

Click here to see the map were episodes have happened with local elected officials.

Episodes:

The Inflation Reduction Act and Cities

The Inflation Reduction Act is a monumental and transformative piece of legislation. For the first time the federal government has passed a law that “meets the moment” and puts us within striking distance of reaching critical climate goals. We interview Dr. Pete Wyckoff, Sr. Policy Advisor for Climate Energy and the Environment in the Office of Minnesota Senator Tina Smith, one of the key legislative leaders on climate policy, to learn about how this legislation happened, and what’s in it for cities.

Resources

NOVEMBER 1ST, 2022 | 51:31 | E43

Heidelberg: Carbon Neutral District

Heidelberg is nearing completion of the Bahnstadt, one of the world’s largest carbon neutral districts. Built on a former brownfield site, this development includes passive-house construction, a combined heat and power station w…

OCTOBER 18TH, 2022 | 36:24 | E42

Solar United Neighbors: Solar “co-ops”

Will rooftop solar be the cornerstone of a modern clean energy system? We interview Anya Schoolman, executive director of Solar United Neighbors and learn how this growing organization is helping neighborhoods go solar around th…

OCTOBER 4TH, 2022 | 40:20 | E41

Rotterdam: Climate proofing a city

Rotterdam, and The Netherlands in general, have a long history of fighting water. But how are they adapting to climate change where they can have both too much and too little water? We interview Johan Verlinde, Program Manager f…

SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022 | 40:50 | E40

Zoning for Solar

How do you make sure your city’s zoning isn’t unintentionally slowing down residential solar and ideally encouraging equitable solar development? And for communities with farmland or less developed areas, how do you proactively…

SEPTEMBER 7TH, 2022 | 43:38 | E39

Europe Cities Overview with ICLEI Europe

Building off of Abby’s recent sustainability tour of several European cities, we interview Holger Robrecht, Deputy Regional Director of Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience for ICLEI Europe. We learn some similarities a…

AUGUST 23RD, 2022 | 37:13 | E38

Making Solar Easy: Solsmart and IREC

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? Well, maybe there is in solar. Cities participating in the free Solsmart program have been shown to have almost 20% more solar installations than cities that don’t. We interview Ther…

AUGUST 9TH, 2022 | 35:48 | E37

Flagstaff AZ: The Case for Carbon Dioxide Removal

Driven by community members, in 2020 Flagstaff declared a climate emergency and adopted an aggressive goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. We interview Flagstaff Climate Analyst Ramon Alatorre and learn how that goal led the city…

JULY 26TH, 2022 | 40:22 | E36

Winneshiek IA: Local Clean Energy Superpower

You wouldn’t expect a clean energy revolution to be emanating from a small county in northeastern Iowa. Yet, Winneshiek County has something like 10X the solar per capita deployments compared to the rest of Iowa, has one of the…

JULY 12TH, 2022 | 48:46 | E35

Rerelease of Tempe AZ: Resilience to Extreme Heat

We’re on a mid-summer break, and are re-releasing the Tempe AZ episode from a few months ago, in recognition of the extreme heat being seen in many parts of the US. We’ll be back with new content next week. Extreme heat is now…

JULY 5TH, 2022 | 44:49 | E34

Fort Collins CO: People-Centered Climate Action

Having met their initial goal of 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (from a 2005 baseline), officials in Fort Collins, Colorado, realized they needed to do something transformational to hit their next goal of 80%…

JUNE 21ST, 2022 | 42:36 | E33

City Climate Corner goes to Europe – preview

Larry interviews Abby about her trip to Europe that is happening as the episode releases. We talk about what she hopes to learn from visits with officials in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Bremen, Heidelberg, and Freiburg in Germ…

MAY 24TH, 2022 | 15:25 | E31

Contra Costa CA: SMART Housing & Conservative City Climate Progress

Though near the Bay Area, Contra Costa County has very different political dynamics when it comes to climate change. And yet a group of organizations are collaborating to get climate action language into cities’ general plans an…

MAY 10TH, 2022 | 36:15 | E30

Indigenous Climate Leadership: Quinault Nation & The National Congress of American Indians

The Quinault Nation is on the front line of impacts from climate change, having experienced a dramatic drop in their blueback salmon fishery, as well as rising sea levels forcing the relocation of one of their two main villages. We interview Fawn Sharp, the Vice-President and former President of the Quinault Nation in Taholah Washington, and the 23rd President of The National Congress of American Indians. We hear her story of how local impacts have driven her to lead state, national, and international action on climate change.

Resources

APRIL 26TH, 2022 | 36:56 | E29

Microgrids: Fremont and Menlo Park CA

What are microgrids and how can they save money, reduce air pollution and provide carbon-free power and backup power? We interview Rachel DiFranco, Fremont’s Sustainability Manager about the trail they blazed five years ago when they installed microgrids on three fire stations. And we’re joined by Menlo Park Council Member Cecilia Taylor and Menlo Spark Executive Director Diane Bailey, to talk about how they are integrating a microgrid into the rebuild of a Menlo Park community center.

APRIL 12TH, 2022 | 43:35 | E28

Tempe AZ: Resilience to Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is now commonplace in Tempe, with 100 days per year over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 days a year over 110. And those numbers are increasing. We interview Dr. Braden Kay, Tempe’s Director of Sustainability, to learn how Tempe’s is adapting while trying to change its built environment to reduce the urban heat island effect.

MARCH 29TH, 2022 | 44:05 | E27

The Importance of Storytelling

Climate change discussion is often filled with science, data, and graphs. But to move people, organizations, and governments to action requires emotional connections and empathy. It requires storytelling. We interview Jothsna Harris, founder of Change Narrative, who is dedicated to building capacity in the climate justice movement through the power of stories. Please listen here.

MARCH 15TH, 2022 | 39:33 | E26

Honolulu and Maui sue Big Oil

In March, 2020, inspired by a small city in California, Honolulu sued 8 oil companies for their role in causing local climate change damages. A few months later Maui County did the same. We interview some of the key people involved to learn how it happened, why they did it, and what they expect to gain from it. Our guests are the former Mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell, Maui County Council Member Kelly Takaya King, and Alyssa Johl, Legal Director for the Center for Climate Integrity.. Please listen here.

MARCH 1ST, 2022 | 47:38 | E25

Keene NH: Small City, Big Climate Punch

Keene, population 23K, has been leading on climate action for over two decades. While their first formal action was in 2000, they’ve since done a Climate Action Plan, Climate Adaptation Plan, and now a Sustainable Energy Plan. We interview Mayor George Hansel and Planner Mari Brunner, to learn about the powerful alliance of citizens, elected officials, and staff that has pushed Keene forward. Please listen here.

FEBRUARY 15TH, 2022 | 39:33 | E24

Columbia MO: One Stop Shop City

Columbia Missouri is a “One Stop Shop” city, with their own utilities in electricity, water, solid waste, stormwater, and sewer. We interview Office of Sustainability Manager Eric Hempel and explore how their electric utility is an integral part of Columbia’s climate goals. We also learn about a Habitat for Humanity net zero home project that has had a wide-ranging impact. Plus, hear from Larry about 15+ MN cities declaring a climate emergency at the same time. Please listen here.

FEBRUARY 1ST, 2022 | 37:36 | E23

ICLEI and the Race to Zero (Carbon)

ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability, has been helping local governments with climate action for three decades. Learn how they’re evolving with some exciting new tools, cohorts, and programs. And hear how the Race to Zero is showing cities that it’s possible to cut carbon emissions 60% in 8 years. We interview Executive Director Angie Fyfe, Sr. Program Officer Kale Roberts, and Zero Carbon Cities Advisor Josh Radoff.

JANUARY 19TH, 2022 | 44:50 | E22

Year in Review

We review our first year of podcasts, including what we’ve learned, emerging themes, and our biggest takeaways.

DECEMBER 28TH, 2021 | 21:19 | E21

Santa Barbara CA: Natural gas ban

On July 20, 2021, Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously to ban natural gas from all new construction in the city. A powerful partnership, encompassing grass roots activism, staff analysis, and city council support, led th…

DECEMBER 7TH, 2021 | 43:21 | E20

NLC: Climate resilience lessons learned from 30+ smaller cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is the oldest and largest organization in the country representing local governments and has been ramping up their climate change and sustainability support. We interview Cooper Martin, Direct…

NOVEMBER 23RD, 2021 | 42:09 | E19

Etna PA: 1st Certified EcoDistrict in U.S.

Etna, a small suburb of Pittsburgh, became the country’s first certified EcoDistrict in 2019. From a place that saw 25% of its homes flood in 2004, learn how collaboration within and between communities made it possible for Etna…

NOVEMBER 9TH, 2021 | 42:35 | E18

Eugene OR: The Giant Sequoia next door

Eugene Oregon has some hugely impressive trees and canopy management tools. We interview City of Eugene Urban Foresters Scott Altenhoff and Heidi Lakics, and learn how trees are intimately woven into Eugene’s climate action plan…

OCTOBER 26TH, 2021 | 41:22 | E17

Duck Hill MS: Youth vs. Flooding

Duck Hill, a town of about 1000 people in north central Mississippi, experienced constant flooding until a team of young “Creek Rangers” took it upon themselves to address it. We interview high school senior and Creek Ranger Mer…

OCTOBER 12TH, 2021 | 42:55 | E16

Ithaca NY: $150M and counting

Ithaca, NY, adopted a Green New Deal in June 2019. Their goal is achieving carbon neutrality community-wide by 2030, while ensuring benefits are shared so as to reduce historical inequities. We interview Luis Aguirre-Torres, Ith…

SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2021 | 51:39 | E15

Asheville NC: Food Policy Action Plan

Asheville, NC adopted a food policy action plan in 2013 and updated it in 2017 to ensure residents have access to healthy, nutritious food in the context of creating a thriving and resilient city. We delve into what the plan is,…

SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2021 | 43:18 | E14

Savannah GA: Trees – Jobs – Climate

In 2018, Savannah received a grant to create an urban tree nursery to grow their tree canopy, mitigate the increasing impacts of climate related flooding, do workforce development, and engage the community. We interview Savannah…

AUGUST 31ST, 2021 | 43:44 | E13

Youth Episode – Laramie WY

We interview three young people who, as University of Wyoming students, were a key part of Laramie’s climate action efforts. Hear from Chelsea Taylor, Jarad O’Brien, and Zach Isler about their projects, their impact on Laramie,…

AUGUST 17TH, 2021 | 31:18 | BONUS

Lexington MA: Efficient Buildings and Electrification

Over a decade ago Lexington adopted a stretch energy code for buildings. Then about 20% better than the existing code, this stretch code was adopted statewide and eventually in 47 other states. Now Lexington has built several al…

AUGUST 3RD, 2021 | 39:29 | E12

Ann Arbor MI: Net Zero by 2030!

About a year ago Ann Arbor adopted an audacious plan of reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 with a total investment of $1 billion. This is faster than just about any other city in the country. We speak with Missy Stults, Ann Arbo…

JULY 20TH, 2021 | 38:49 | E11

Laramie WY: Coal Country Climate Action

39% of the nation’s coal comes from Wyoming. Yet there are some strong local movements for renewable energy and climate action. Learn how a unique and powerful coalition of climate activists, university students, and city offici…

JULY 6TH, 2021 | 42:51 | E10

Tacoma WA: Declaring a Climate Emergency

In December 2019, Tacoma Washington declared a climate emergency. We examine why they did it and how it has been a springboard for more aggressive climate goals and an increased focus on climate justice. We interview Patrick Bab…

JUNE 22ND, 2021 | 35:21 | E9

NAACP and Climate Justice

The NAACP has created comprehensive tools that cities can learn from and leverage in service of climate justice. We interview Jacqui Patterson, Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice program. Having run t…

JUNE 8TH, 2021 | 38:56 | E8

Boulder CO: Neighborhood climate action plans

Boulder Colorado is embarking on a hyper-local neighborhood-based approach to climate action. We interview Boulder Sustainability Coordinator Elizabeth Vasatka, and climate activist David Takahashi, about an exciting new program…

MAY 25TH, 2021 | 40:51 | E7

Youth Episode – Fayetteville AR

We interview 17-year old Amelia Southern about her path to climate justice activism in Fayetteville, that includes a Miami influence. And we reveal the source of our podcast music!

MAY 11TH, 2021 | 20:03 | BONUS

Fayetteville AR: Bike City

In February 2021 Fayetteville was the first city in the US to be awarded the designation of Bike City by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body of cycling. We talk with Dane Eifling, Fayetteville’s Mob…

MAY 11TH, 2021 | 36:48 | E6

Goshen IN: Climate Action with a Conservative City Council

Goshen is a northern Indiana city of 35,000 people that has had a Republican majority City Council and a Democratic mayor for decades. Yet they’ve made strong progress on climate action. Learn how (hint – young people played a s…

APRIL 27TH, 2021 | 40:14 | E5

Youth Episode – Goshen IN

We interview now college freshman Dylan Steury about his role, and the role of young people in general, in Goshen climate action. Hear about how he and his peers presented to City Council and got their unanimous support.

APRIL 27TH, 2021 | 17:50 | BONUS

Trailer

APRIL 19TH, 2021 | 00:33 | TRAILER

Albany CA: Funding Climate Action

How does a small city fund climate action? Albany came up with a creative answer. We interview newly elected council member Preston Jordan and Climate Action Committee member Nick Peterson, about their recently approved utility…

APRIL 13TH, 2021 | 39:53 | E4

Youth Episode – Albany, CA

We interview 19-year-old Samantha Smithies about her role in climate action in Albany, CA. Hear about how she participated on, and then led, the city’s Climate Action Committee.

APRIL 13TH, 2021 | 16:32 | BONUS

Youth Lead The Way – St. Louis Park, MN

High School students in St. Louis Park, MN initiated what became the most aggressive climate action plan in the state. Abby interviews co-host Larry Kraft about how youth forever changed the course of the city and how they remai…

MARCH 30TH, 2021 | 26:50 | E3

Youth Episode – St. Louis Park, MN

Youth from the St Louis Park High School Environmental Club initiated St. Louis Park’s Climate Action Plan over five years ago and remain involved today. We interview the leader that started the work five years ago and the curre…

MARCH 30TH, 2021 | 15:09 | BONUS

Anchorage Alaska: Rewriting the narrative

What does it look like to engage in a just transition? How can city climate action benefit from inclusive engagement? How do you change an entrenched fossil fuel story about the Alaskan economy? We interview Ruth Miller of Nativ…

MARCH 16TH, 2021 | 52:41 | E2

Youth episode – Anchorage Alaska

We interview 16 year old Emily Taylor of Anchorage and Bristol Bay about her story and the impacts of climate change on her, her family, and Alaska.

MARCH 16TH, 2021 | 19:40 | BONUS

Clean Energy Scorecard for Small Cities

After introducing the podcast and what listeners can expect, our first episode looks at an analysis of clean energy efforts by 30 small cities around the country. We interview Dave Ribeiro, director of local policy at the Americ…

FEBRUARY 24TH, 2021 | 31:18 |