Audubon Florida is teaming up with local governments, ICLEI USA (Local Governments for Sustainability), and Florida universities with support from Wells Fargo to document carbon emissions in East Florida. Known as Greenhouse Gas Cohorts, teams collect critical emissions data for cities and counties.
Through this program, students from Florida universities team up with staff from city and county governments to create GHG inventories for government operations. Greenhouse gases are emitted through fossil fuel burning, operation of sewage treatment plants, and other public works activities. When they are released into the atmosphere, they trap heat, driving global climate change. Inventories allow cities and counties to understand the scope of their greenhouse gas emissions and create plans to effectively reduce them and thus their contribution to climate change. This transparency provides accountability to taxpayers and is a measure of whether the policies put in place are working effectively.
As part of the Greenhouse Gas Cohort, local governments work on the same timeline, creating momentum and collaborating as a region. Local governments also receive additional capacity from student fellows who create the inventories as they gain real-world experience for academic credit.
“Wells Fargo is committed to mitigating climate impacts, and that’s why we’re proud to support Audubon Florida and their constant, innovative efforts to conserve and restore Florida’s natural ecosystems through initiatives like the Greenhouse Gas Cohorts,” said Wells Fargo Florida Philanthropy and Community Impact Senior Vice President Kate Wilson.
As the East Florida Cohort kicks off, local government staff are meeting with an expert from ICLEI to receive direction and guidance on how to gather data from different departments, including wastewater, solid waste, water, electricity, and more. Student partners are slated to join the local government staff this fall.
Partner schools include Indian River State College, Florida Institute of Technology, Stetson University, Flagler College, and the University of Florida. As the year progresses, the student and local government pairs will participate in further training facilitated by ICLEI to complete their GHG inventories.
Audubon Florida has previously hosted two other regional GHG Cohorts. In 2021, Audubon Florida launched the state’s largest, simultaneous local government GHG inventory initiative in East Central Florida. The AF + R2C Cohort was co-facilitated by Audubon Florida, the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (R2C), and ICLEI. In this cohort, 18 local governments and 18 students from Stetson University, Florida Institute of Technology, and University of Central Florida were paired to complete a GHG inventory. The project team replicated the cohort in the Tampa Bay region in 2022 with 12 local governments and students from University of South Florida.
Audubon Florida continues to work with our cohort alumni to identify ongoing ways to collaborate as next steps in climate action planning are identified and developed.
This year’s program would not be possible without the funding and support from our corporate partner, Wells Fargo.
Audubon Florida is Florida’s oldest statewide conservation nonprofit, working to protect Florida’s water, wildlife, habitat, and climate. We use strong science to inform pragmatic policy solutions to the environmental challenges facing Florida, involving people and communities to protect the natural resources that underpin our economy and quality of life. Learn more at fl.audubon.org