WXXI News | By Pat Bradley

Lake Champlain Sea Grant, a partnership between SUNY Plattsburgh, the University of Vermont and NOAA, recently hosted a webinar on engaging communities in climate action.

The Sea Grant works to protect Lake Champlain and a primary area of interest is helping communities find ways to adapt to climate change. One method is through New York’s Climate Smart Communities.

Adirondack North Country Association Climate Smart Communities Coordinator Carlie Leary provided an overview of the statewide initiative.

“It’s a free voluntary New York state program that any municipality can join,” Leary said. “That’s a village, town, city or county level can participate in this program. It’s really designed to help local governments participate in climate action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency to climate change, the unfortunate effects that we’re all going to feel in the future. It’s sponsored by six different state agencies. The program design has been informed by several different agencies. It’s pretty interdisciplinary. It has focuses that span from policy to more actionable items like installing EV charging stations.”

Regional coordinators provide technical assistance and resources that allow communities to begin taking action. A certification program helps a community become more competitive when seeking grants. Leary noted there are currently 381 registered and 118 certified communities participating in the Climate Smart initiative across New York.

“A registered community within the Climate Smart Communities program is just a community that’s made a commitment to this program by passing a local resolution adopting the ten-point pledge,” Leary said. “It shows the state that your community is willing to start to look at your emissions, look at how you can change your government practices to better prepare for climate change. And then our certified communities are the ones who’ve made that concrete progress. The ones that have actually started to take action. All of the actions have varying amounts of points that they’re worth and you can become bronze or silver certified throughout this program. We don’t have a gold certification yet.”

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