WEST LAFAYETTE – A week after West Lafayette High School students led a climate strike march to city offices, pressing Mayor John Dennis for local action on what they called a crisis situation of global proportions, the city put itself on the clock Monday with an intention to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 percent every four years.

In a non-binding resolution, similar in aim and tone to ones passed in a handful of Indiana cities, West Lafayette City Council members said they were on board with groups of high school and Purdue University students who had been pushing for a city statement and commitment on climate change.

The vote was unanimous.

“I challenge any one of you not to be affected by their passion and their focus and their belief in how we can do a much better job for our planet,” Dennis said, pointing to council chambers crowded with some of the same faces that led the march to the city offices on Sept. 27.

At that rally, Dennis talked about plans to bring the resolution, which makes a list of promises based on studies by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center findings that have “determined that with continued business-as-usual and no attempted reduction in carbon emissions, the Midwest can expect increased risks to public health, infrastructure and agriculture due to increased heat wave intensity and frequency, more extreme droughts, increased heavy rain events and flooding, decreased agriculture yield, and degraded air and water quality.”

Among the promises signed off on by the nine-member council, the city: set a goal to reduce emissions by 20 percent every four years; said it intends to review emission reduction goals based on an updated climate action plan at the end of 2022 and then every five years after that; plans to work with the Environmental Resilience Institute’s Reliance Cohort to track the city’s greenhouse gas emissions; and plans to work in the community “to support individual lifestyle changes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The resolution, packed with “intends to” statements, comes without the guarantees of an ordinance. But those lobbying for it – primarily students from Purdue and from the West Lafayette Climate Strike Students, a group of high students formed in May – called it a start.
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