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Local elected officials meet to discuss solutions for climate change

Posted at 11:43 PM, Dec 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-09 07:32:30-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Citing the ongoing protests about rising taxes in the French capital, President Trump slammed The Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help fight climate change, on Saturday.

A few hours after Trump's critical tweet, elected officials from around the Kansas City area — from big cities like Kansas City, Missouri, to smaller ones like Williamsville, Missouri, a town of 350 people — met to discuss ways to combat climate-related issues at the local level.

“It's so serious that we probably don't pay enough attention to it,” KCMO Mayor Sly James said.

Williamsville Mayor Angela Smith agreed, “We're small but we want to do our part."

The goal for James and Smith are the same — figuring out how stop what they call the biggest problem our future faces.

“The vast majority of people recognize the problem too, so we're hearing it directly from our constituents that they want to do something more,”  Roeland Park, Kansas, Mayor Mike Kelly said.

Each city wants a plan to tackle what is, in fract, a global issue.

“Shawnee is looking at our energy use citywid and looking for opportunities to save money through efficiency upgrades, even the possibility of solar panels,”  Shawnee Councilmember Lindsey Constance said.

Roeland Park is moving forward with some solar projects, while Kansas CIty also is committed to doing its part.

"We're moving towards compressed natural gas vehicles and electric vehicles; LED lighting; sensors that tell us when to reduce and increase lighting, so that we are being efficient with lighting, etc.; measuring traffic flows, so that we know how to make sure that we are taking care of the roads in a way that reduces gasoline usage," James said.

Some recently elected officials also hope to bring attention about environmental issues to state houses.

"That's my biggest priority going forward," said Kansas Rep.-elect Rui Xu said. "None of the other stuff — state house or even the federal government — none of the stuff we're arguing about matters if we don't address climate change now."

It's the collaboration from both sides of the state line that has leaders optimistic about combating this issue.

"We care about each other and we are ready to solve this problem together," Kelly said.

But it's a time-critical mission.

"Frankly, we're running out of time," Constance said.

Kansas City Power & Light said its goal is to create 100 percent renewable energy usage.

The meeting was the first of its kind for local leaders, who hope to continue such meetings in the future.