Detroit’s Climate Action Plan

The Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice established the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC) in 2011 to help the city of Detroit identify short- and long-term actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Detroit Climate Action Collaborative provided expert advice on the most credible, aggressive and economically viable targets; develop a replicable and complete Climate Action Plan; and ready Detroiters for coping with the impacts of climate change.

This information informed the development of Detroit’s first Climate Action Plan, and the plan contained information for Detroit’s climate trends, adaptation strategies, public health goals, and mitigation plans the city strives to achieve by 2050. GLISA provided climate trends for various variables, such as temperature, precipitation, cooling degree days, heating degree days, and heavy precipitation days. The Global Historical Climatology Network Daily (GHCN-D) Observations station in Windsor, ON provided the climatological trends due to its close proximity to downtown Detroit, and the Detroit Climatology summarized the trends in the form of figures and narratives describing the observations. GLISA provided additional information for heat stress and heat-related deaths due to rising temperatures. The Detroit Climate Action Plan utilized the climate summary for explaining the historical and projected climatological trends of Detroit.

Detroit Climate Action Collaborative Director Dr. Kimberly Hill Knott hosted a press conference with various speakers providing statements supporting the Detroit Climate Action Plan. Several partners from the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative, including GLISA, gave remarks for the Climate Action Plan and the future hopes of it being approved by Detroit’s City Council. GLISA’s climatologist, Omar Gates, spoke of the climate trends Detroit has experienced as well as the support GLISA provided in collaboration with the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative. Crain’s Detroit Business wrote an article quoting Gates’ speech, and the article highlighted the practices of other businesses as they strive to be more sustainable. The Detroit Climate Action Plan released officially to the public after the press conference on October 25, 2017.

Project Accomplishments: 

The Mayor and Office of Sustainability for the city of Detroit supported the Detroit Climate Action Plan, and the Detroit City Council must approve the document for the plan to be official.

Research findings: 

GLISA participated in a press conference for the Detroit Climate Action Plan, and this was the first document to have a press conference to publicly announce the initiatives. GLISA’s climate information was mentioned by several speakers throughout the event.

The city of Detroit experienced rising average temperatures of 2.7°F, and precipitation increased by 10.7% through the time period of 1951-2014. The freeze-free season (growing season) extended throughout the city during this time as well. The heavy rainfall occurrences decreased by 1.8% based on the comparison of heavy precipitation falling between 1951-1980 and 1980-2010. Temperature projections increased by 3-5°F, and projected precipitation varied based on the model simulations provided by the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Change Research. Heat-related death increased during the time periods of 2020-2029 (near-term), 2045-2055 (mid-century), and 2090-2099 (end of century).

Project Partners: Guy Williams, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Dr. Kimberly Hill Knott, (formerly with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice) Detroit Climate Action Collaborative

GLISA Contact: Omar Gates, Climatologist: gateso@umich.edu