Modified: March 31, 2021 11:32am

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Accepting scientific evidence that climate change is a global reality that has a direct impact on our region, Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte, the Erie County Community Climate Change Task Force and other community stakeholders today announced the kick-off of an equity-centered Community Climate Action planning process.

“We are pleased to roll out a planning process that is centered in equity, seeks community input and ongoing public engagement, and will help Erie County meet the goals set forward by the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” said Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte. “This effort will develop a community-minded climate action program and work with our many wonderful community partners to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our changing climate.”

In order to address community-wide emissions, Erie County’s Environmental Management Council, which advises county government officials on environmental issues, formed the Erie County Community Climate Change Task Force in January 2019. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz recognized the Task Force as the County’s official climate change advisory committee by issuing an Executive Order ( in April 2019.

The Task Force has key stakeholders and experts from a variety of sectors, including representatives from municipalities, community-based organizations, not-for-profits, education, utilities and transportation. The group has been laying the groundwork for a larger Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) by meeting monthly to discuss how current programs can work together to mitigate and adapt to climate change. They drafted a scoping document, as well as a draft outline for the plan. The Task Force is forming working groups to develop the initiatives, that the County can implement or influence, around such topics as: climate justice, energy conservation and renewable energy, transportation, natural climate solutions (forestry and agriculture), consumption and waste reduction (including food), climate vulnerability, housing and neighborhood resiliency, and economic and workforce development.

A key component to the planning process is community involvement. Feedback is needed from individuals, and the County is also looking for Climate Action Ambassadors to reach out to small groups in their community, whether that is a book club, church group or block club. As part of the kick-off, a video aired from community leaders about why the public should get involved in this planning process.

The video featured Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, local meteorologist Don Paul, local horticulturalist Sally Cunningham, Pastor Kinzer M. Pointer, Erie County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein, and Youth Climate Council Member Nadya Elhalawany.

“Erie County has worked with stakeholders on our Community Climate Change Task Force to ensure that this plan is developed with community input, which is vital so that we develop initiatives that address the needs of our residents and have the public’s support,” said Commissioner Thomas R. Hersey Jr.

To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit and click “get involved.” Options include signing up to receive email updates, an ambassador program and the ability to submit comments about the draft plan outline and scoping document.

The project has been funded in part with $99,758 from the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program, Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

For more information:

On the Erie County Community Climate Action Plan, visit:

On the Climate Smart Communities Grants Program, visit: