By Nicky Leigh

I attended two different climate conferences recently, Michigan Climate and Clean Energy Summit and the Michigan Sustainability Conference.

MCCE is very much about “where do the various government entities stand and what is happening to mitigate climate change”.  For example, Sen. Stabenow talked about Federal Forestry programs, regenerative agriculture, urban trees, and EV rebates and charging stations.

One very interesting speaker was Jacqueline Patterson from the NAACP.  She mentioned that 68% of Blacks live within 30 miles of coal electric plants and suffer the greatest electrification plant pollution. Also, due to being among the lowest income earners, they often suffer the most from shut off electricity. She wants to shift the narrative to have people start to listen to minority concerns and not pin their hopes on false solutions from future technology promises.

Also, Kalamazoo’s very own Dr. Denise Keele, founding member and director of Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition (which we just voted to join!), was the recipient of the 2021 Climate Champion Award. Congratulations, Dr. Keele!

To learn more about this conference, go to  YouTube also has some videos of the speakers.

The Michigan Sustainability Conference is much more about the accomplishments of various cities and businesses.

For example, Meijer, of course, does plastic bag and plastic film recycling, but they are also adding EV charging stations, both Level 2 and fast-charging, to their stores for use while shopping. They have also switched to LED lighting, as needed freezer lighting, and they are looking to switch their freezers to non-fluorocarbon.  In addition, they are now using geothermal on a new store to determine the emissions savings in the heating and cooling of the store.

There were many more stories told about accomplishments and solutions, but I don’t have the space for all of them.  We heard from cities, towns, businesses about recycling, landfill, solar farms, transportation, electronic waste, circular economy, working with suppliers, etc.

I would recommend that anyone curious about our future, attend these conferences in the future.  Hopefully, if they go back to live format, they will also continue to Zoom.

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