Climate Change in Urban Areas

Realized and Potential Challenges:

Urban and suburban areas in Missouri face several unique challenges compared to rural communities. Increased temperatures associated with climate change are exacerbating effects of urban heat islands, particularly in Kansas City and St. Louis. Social justice related to climate change is also a challenge in urban areas where increased temperatures, food security, and air pollution disproportionately affect low-income, minority neighborhoods. In highly populated counties, much of the population commutes by car to work each day and public transportation is not adequate to reduce vehicle commuters in most of these areas. Further, there is a lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles and other lower-emissions transportation methods, such as bike lanes. State preemption laws and other policies prevent urban cities and counties from taking actionable steps towards climate adaptation and mitigation.

Ongoing Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts:

Missouri does not have a statewide climate action plan; however, several municipalities and regions have developed local climate action and adaptation plans. In Kansas City, the Mid-America Regional Council and Climate Action KC are coordinating a carbon emissions inventory and subsequent climate action plan. This region is one of three regions that has joined the Global Covenant of Mayors (with Denver, CO and Washington, DC). Several cities in St. Louis County have developed climate action plans (e.g., City of Creve Coeur) and the City of St. Louis has implemented several initiatives to combat climate change after completing a baseline inventory of carbon emissions in 2010.

In larger cities where local government have not directly addressed climate change, community organizations work to support sustainable programs and practices. Additionally, researchers at University of Missouri – Kansas City, Missouri State University, University of Missouri – Columbia, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis University, and University of Missouri – St. Louis are seeking solutions to local challenges in their respective communities.