Modified: January 20, 2021 9:40am
The Erie County Commits to Paris work group and the Erie County Green Team have released their annual report outlining progress on numerous initiatives contained in the Erie County Commits to Paris report, covering both internal and community actions, and in the county’s Climate Action and Sustainability Plan (“CASP”) for internal operations. To date, ten initiatives in the Erie County Commits to Paris report have been fully completed, representing 27% of the total, with twenty-six more in progress. The CASP report shows that two Tier One Priority Initiatives have been completed and the remaining twenty-three are in progress.
Additionally, a review of the significant sources of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions from Erie County government operations for calendar year 2019 shows a 29.7% decrease in emissions since 2005, and a 3.0% decrease since 2014. There was a 1.1% emissions decrease between 2019 and 2018, which is largely due to a reduction in fleet fuel use. Since 2018, the Department of Public Works has updated the County fleet using a lease model and many older, less fuel efficient vehicles have been replaced by more fuel efficient models, which likely explains this reduction.
“Even as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Erie County continues to address climate change and work on ways to mitigate its effects through in-house and community actions. We are facing the challenges of our time but we are making progress by reducing emissions, building a more efficient county fleet, and taking other actions to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “2020 brought about many unprecedented challenges and changes due to the pandemic, but even through this trying time Erie County was able to continue moving forward with sustainability work. We will continue in this effort and I thank the Paris work group, Community Climate Change Task Force, Environmental Management Council and the Erie County Green Team for their work in creating a cleaner, better Erie County for future generations.”
“The county’s energy usage and energy consumption habits have all come into clearer focus through the work of the Paris work group, the Community Climate Change Task Force, and the Green Team with improvements already occurring and reductions in the county’s carbon footprint already evident,” said Commissioner of Environment and Planning Thomas Hersey. “We will continue to advance initiatives in the report, working in-house and with community partners to create a healthier, greener Erie County for the future.”
A major Erie County Commits to Paris project completed in 2020 was the construction of a food waste composting site and the roll out of a composting program at the Erie County Correctional Facility. The composting project, which includes a compost site and a food waste collection program, is now in full operation. The project is supported by a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) Climate Smart Community Grant and composts 80% of the food waste at the facility.
Other initiatives currently underway include the implementation of an Energy Performance Contract (“EPC”) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money. The EPC, which has entered the construction phase, will save the County over $417,000 and 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually through 109 different projects. This project will modernize mechanical systems and drastically improve the buildings’ energy efficiency, with energy savings from the improvements paying for the projects in less than thirteen years.
Additionally, the County kicked off its Climate Vulnerability Assessment in 2020. Working in partnership with SUNY University at Buffalo and supported by a grant from NYSDEC, Erie County is assessing the increasing threats posed by climate change to the County, the County’s sensitivity to these threats, and the County’s capacity to adapt to climate change. The County issued a Climate Hazards Report in 2020 focusing on increasing threats from flooding, thermal events, and biological threats, and will wrap up the project in June 2021. This work is critical to ensuring that the County is prepared to protect the community in an uncertain future, and is especially important to identifying actions needed to support community members who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Learn more at www.erie.gov/cva.
Elsewhere, Erie County is implementing low-mow and no-mow areas as outlined in the county Parks Master Plan Update and is also considering a partnership with The Nature Conservancy's Working Woodland project, which can provide a resource to create a forest management plan. In addition, in 2020, the County installed electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations at nine county parks. A map of county public EV charging stations can be found here: www.erie.gov/ev .
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning’s climate and sustainability initiatives, visit
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