Charleston County Climate Action Plan

Charleston County is creating its first Climate Action Plan through a collaborative process involving various stakeholders from the business, education, non-profit, and local government sectors.

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

The Challenge

The development of The Climate Action Plan, recommended by council, allows the county and residents to address climate change. The climate action plan is a clear pathway that aligns with state and federal guidelines, providing a big picture overview of the challenges Charleston is facing. The development of this plan allows the County and its residents to leverage federal funding for a wide variety of initiatives, and is the County’s contribution to addressing climate change. Charleston presents a unique set of environmental and built design challenges. Looking at the future of Charleston’s environment, economy, and health it is important to take action against climate change. By embracing adaptation and mitigation strategies, we can effectively manage present impacts while fortifying ourselves against future changes.

The map above highlights Charleston County, which includes sixteen distinct cities and towns within its borders. The County only has jurisdiction over unincorporated areas (shown in white on the map). Engaging communities where climate action and carbon emissions are frequently discussed is vital. Greenhouse gas emissions are not contained by geographic boundaries, emphasizing the importance of collective collaboration on climate action. Regular education of residents beyond formal engagement processes fosters trust, awareness, and tangible impacts on their daily lives.

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

The Goal

A climate action plan is essential to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change by establishing emission reduction goals. Charleston’s susceptibility to increasing hurricanes and flooding jeopardizes homeowners and wildlife habitats, impacting both the economy and community health. Decarbonizing the county is a process that will generate new jobs, stimulate innovation, increase resilience, provide energy security, reduce household energy costs, advance equity, and improve quality of life.

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

Engagement

Gathering input from residents stands as a pivotal phase in climate action planning. Outreach efforts, whether conducted virtually or in person, played a crucial role in capturing the perspectives of Charleston County residents regarding the path towards a sustainable and resilient future. The initial step involves informing residents about the purpose and significance of a climate action plan. Subsequently, engaging with residents facilitates discussions on their priorities. Finally, integrating community feedback obtained through previous outreach initiatives, sessions focus on providing a high-level overview of climate actions outlined in the draft plan.

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

The Results

Feedback from residents top 3 concerns related to:

  • flooding/hurricanes
  • loss of animal habitat
  • sea level rise

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

Charleston County Climate Action Plan

What We Learned

Overall, the engagement efforts in Charleston County highlighted the importance of identifying the audience, especially those most affected by climate change impacts. Recognizing the need for a tailored educational approach, emphasized the importance of community involvement in shaping the climate action plan. Outreach strategies varied, from traditional methods like distributing flyers to leveraging digital platforms and collaborating with local organizations. Identifying community gatekeepers, building relationships, and employing diverse communication strategies were essential in fostering ongoing dialogue and collaboration. Despite challenges, such as a lack of identification with the plan in certain areas and limited community interest in others, continuous interaction with the community provided valuable insights for future efforts and plan implementation.

The Participants

Consultants:

Services provided include:

  • Marketing and Messaging
  • Community Communications

Learn more by visiting their website or view more examples from our portfolio of work.

  • South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development
  • Women-Owned Business
  • Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Charleston Minority & Women Business Enterprise