For the last year, Emmett/Frankel Fellow and native Texan
has served on the steering committee for San Antonio's climate action and adaptation plan, set for release in January 2019. Kaur
about how the public dialogue around climate change is shifting in Texas.
Q: What are some of the main issues that San Antonio wants to address in its climate plan?
For San Antonio, climate change is primarily causing extreme heat and precipitation, the effects of which hit communities where people might not have access to reliable air conditioning, or where the water infrastructure needs upgrades. Additionally, this plan will further the city’s goals for becoming a globally recognized city by joining the international effort to solving the climate crisis.
Q: For Texas communities where phrases like "climate change" are taboo, is it still possible to meaningfully plan for reducing carbon pollution and adapting to heat waves and other climate impacts?
Absolutely. While many communities follow the Republican rhetoric that balks at the idea of anthropogenic climate change, many farming communities recognize the drastic changes in drought and heat levels over the last decade that have deeply risked their livelihoods. With the right narrative, these communities would support climate adaptation policies that will improve their climate resilience.
Q: Are there any lessons from San Antonio, about how to engage conservative communities on climate change?
There is no universal message that will work for every city. Texas’ surge in climate action illustrates that cities are most likely to pursue climate action when they realize how it aligns with their existing goals. Climate advocates, therefore, need to engage with city leadership by tailoring their narrative to what the city sees as its most important needs.
Photo credit: Camelia TWU, Flickr