The city of Eau Claire responds to climate change concerns with plans for a more sustainable future

Electric busses, solar panels and changing light bulbs are all ways Eau Claire plans to become more sustainable


Johnson 2019

Walking, biking and public transportation are big steps to becoming more sustainable, said Scott Clark, associate professor of geology at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

With increasing awareness of the climate’s rapid warming and its possible effects on the state, the city of Eau Claire is actively working to become a more sustainable community.

“Both climate change and sustainability connect,” said Scott Clark, associate professor of geology at the University of WisconsinEau Claire.

Clark said there are many ways the city can reduce the amount of non-renewable resources used every year.

“I’ve seen where you can have solar panels basically like a carport in parking lots,” Clark said. “So you get a double benefit of the production of energy and you’re also not overheating your cars by being right in the sunlight. We’ve got a few parking lots that would be great for that.”

Walking, biking and public transportation are also big steps to becoming more sustainable, Clark said. Other steps include shopping locally, reducing food waste and switching to cleaner energy sources, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The city of Eau Claire recently responded to climate change concerns by creating goals to obtain 100 percent renewable energy and carbon neutrality by 2050 for the Eau Claire County government and the county community.

Eau Claire City Councilwoman Kate Beaton said she was proud to sponsor the resolution of committing Eau Claire to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

“There’s a lot that we can do within the city organization to reduce the carbon emissions that we use,” Beaton said. “Things like using electric busses, putting solar panels on the top of our buildings, changing our light bulbs, that sort of thing. I think the real benefit to this goal is going to be our collaboration with Xcel Energy. Xcel Energy is our local power company and they have committed to 100 percent renewable energy as well.”

The Eau Claire County Board recently voted 25-1 on April 16 in support of the resolution adopting the renewable energy goals.

“When this resolution passed through the County Board with only one dissenting vote, I felt a tremendous hope,” said Lauren Becker, University of WisconsinEau Claire sophomore who spoke at the Eau Claire County Board’s public hearing.

Becker has promoted sustainability on and off campus through her service as the Sustainability Living Learning Community Programmer in the 2017-18 academic year, member of the campus Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee, and through her active membership in the Student Office of Sustainability Commission.

“Sometimes I want to put my hands over my ears and just forget,” Becker said. “But we cannot. We cannot let fear of what we’re facing deter us from concrete action. In my opinion, this action is crucial. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It’s important to take this step, but now we must follow through and start making changes. A resolution such as this must be followed with rapid and effective action.”