Program Will Help Address Climate Impact on Public Health, Emergency Preparedness

    The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does not have the authority to declare a state of emergency.

    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer believes climate change is already affecting — and will continue to affect — a wide rnage of areas, including public health and the state’s ability to respond to emergencies.

    That’s why Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy announced the Catalyst Communities program, a plan her office called a “comprehensive initiative” designed to provide education, training, planning and technical resources to local public officials as they prepare for climate impacts on emergency response and public health.

    “Michigan has seen and continues to experience the lasting effects of climate change and we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to protect Michigan families, environment and economy,” Whitmer said. “This program will give communities the resources they need to continue to implement real change that is seen and felt by Michiganders across the state.” 

    The online Climate Academy training will kick off in November, but local officials can sign up now for the series of training classes and to receive more information. The program is a multi-tier instruction curriculum on adapting locally to the impacts of climate change on communities, mitigating harms and implementing clean energy solutions. After successfully completing the sessions, attendees will be better equipped to prepare their communities for potential climate impacts. 

    Action on climate must be taken at all levels and local responses are key to ensuring that Michigan’s 10 million residents are able to cope with the stresses of changes that can no longer be avoided, EGLE Director Liesl Clark said.  

    “The impact of climate change is real. We’re seeing it in our pink skies from West Coast wildfires and in mosquito-borne diseases as well as severe weather that is made worse by high lake levels,” Clark said. “Catalyst Communities will lift up the work ongoing in communities from Northport to Marquette and from Grand Rapids to Detroit. Catalyst Communities will support communities that want to do more and need to hear their options. And the program will create a place to learn for locals who want to take action and need to see what the path might be.” 

    Participants will work to secure a resilient future for their communities into the next century by building emergency response preparedness, public health awareness, and economic revitalization solutions. These tools will help every Michigan community to succeed in a changing climate and the transition to clean energy. 

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    The program, facilitated by EGLE’s Office of Climate and Energy under Dr. Brandy Brown, includes these four principal themes that move Michigan toward climate readiness: 

    • Emergency Preparedness: Offer guidance to communities on potential climate impacts with a focus on risk projection, resilient infrastructure planning and disaster recovery.  
    • Adaption Planning Resources: Provide up-to-date public health, climate resilience zoning, green financing and energy infrastructure guidebooks, as well as tools to ensure that every Michigan community is ready for the future. 
    • Economic Resilience: Provide advanced technological support that encourages rapid adoption of advanced energy technologies, all-sector building efficiency and pathways to training the workforce of the future. 
    • Integrating Equity: Ensuring that low-income residents and communities of color are provided with the tools to adapt to climate effects and that they benefit from climate initiatives like clean energy jobs and green infrastructure in neighborhoods. 

    The Catalyst Communities Program continues Whitmer’s focus on preparing Michigan for the wide-ranging impacts of climate change. Shortly after taking office, Gov. Whitmer said the impacts of global climate change are being felt in Michigan and are projected to intensify in the future. In Executive Directive 2019-12, the Governor committed the State of Michigan to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, track progress toward climate action goals, and accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level.