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Detroit Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Action Plan


Overview- Detroit Climate Action Collaborative:
In 2011, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ), the oldest urban environmental justice organization in Michigan, convened several key stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to form the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC). The (DCAC) was established to help the city of Detroit identify short and long term actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions, provide expert advice on the most credible, aggressive and economically viable targets, develop a replicable and complete Climate Action Plan, and to ready Detroiters for coping with the impacts of climate change.

To inform the process, a team of five School of Natural Resources and Environment master's students will complete a baseline GHG inventory for the City of Detroit, at the municipal and community levels as well as document trend GHG emission data for recent years.


Because this is a grass-roots effort, community engagement is key. Students, working with DCAC members, will be essential in this community engagement and will gain insight into mitigation and adaptation planning, leveraging resources in resource-scarce times, as well as facilitating collaboration and information sharing across government departments, businesses and non-profit organizations.


While the DCAC aims to ensure the Climate Action Plan most closely reflects the needs of Detrotiers, much work has been done to draw upon lessons learned from cities across the U.S. that have led similar initiatives. [For examples of other Climate Action Plans, visit Chicago (, PlaNYC (, Pittsburg (]. Over a period of time, DCAC will collaborate to develop the City of Detroit's first Climate Action Plan, which will be refined with input from local government, community members and other key stakeholders.


Local environmental organizations, public officials, and academics have enthusiastically come together to work collaboratively on addressing climate change in Detroit. A multi-faceted group of partners combine their respective areas of expertise and relationships across the city and region for a truly effective and actionable climate strategy that will prepare Detroit for climate change.


Summary of Project Idea:
GHG inventories are an essential primary step to climate action planning and are needed in those cities which haven't yet conducted an inventory. DCAC is looking to inventory for the City of Detroit municipal operations emissions (buildings, transportation and public service sectors) in addition to a community inventory (residential, commercial, industrial, waste, and transportation sectors).


DCAC endeavors to develop a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to reduce Detroit's carbon footprint. As a key participant in this effort, SNRE students will 1) measure past and present GHG emissions; 2) identify source distribution and magnitude of emissions and 3) collect, enter, analyze and interpret GHG data, and make recommendations for reducing GHG emissions. DCAC will use findings to develop specific measures and actions needed to achieve targets and address emission-generating activities. Students will engage with city officials and utility companies to collect and analyze GHG emissions. This project will incorporate aspects of the following SNRE program areas: Environmental Justice and Sustainable Systems.


Specific Goals of the Project:
1) Increase students knowledge of environmental justice by identifying sources of high-level air pollution in the city of Detroit and its impact on climate change that disproportionately burdens low-income communities of color

2) Increase the students knowledge of renewable energy and global and regional environmental impacts and how these impacts affect climate change

3) Work with city leaders and utilities to collect and analyze GHG emissions data.

a. Identify major emission sources - general energy use and non-energy sources
b. Identify data needed to calculate emissions
c. Identify where needed data may be obtained in local government

4) Develop report

a. Work with supervisor to analyze results, develop recommendations
b. Write report and communicate results to staff
c. Develop presentation and present to relevant body


Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • Prior experience working with environmental issues/ or knowledge of environmental issues
  • Solid writing, computer and analytical skills
  • Ability to work with and interpret large amounts of numerical data
  • Ability to graphically represent data in graphs and tables
  • Ability to provide quality control and assurance for work
  • Experience presenting in meetings and collaborating with workgroups
  • Assertive personality, and strong people skills critical for working with city departments and diverse personalities
  • Self starter
  • General understanding of climate science and impacts


Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ)
DTE Energy Foundation
Research Areas