Modified: September 23, 2020 3:23pm
Erie County is reaffirming its commitment to leadership on climate change and environmental protection as part of Climate Week 2020, a weeklong happening coordinated by the United Nations and New York City to showcase climate actions taken by communities worldwide and to discuss how to do more. Governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations and individuals will participate in Climate Week’s panel discussions, concerts, seminars, and exhibitions covering areas such as Clean Energy Transition; Climate Impacts and Adaptation; Finance, Investment and Jobs; and Food and Land Use.
In 2017, County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued his 17th Executive Order in the wake of the White House’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement despite overwhelming evidence of the threat from climate change. The Order mandated that county government reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and set in motion planning and actions by the county to reduce such emissions from government operations, support reduction of community-wide GHG emissions reductions, and protect the county from the inevitable impacts of climate change. Since 2017, the County has already met the emission reduction standards of the Paris Agreement.
“With its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the White House abdicated its leadership position in America and across the globe. When we see the climate disasters impacting large parts of our country today it’s clearer than ever why we joined municipalities across the United States who are standing up for what is right and protecting future generations of Americans,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “For Climate Week, Erie County is proud to highlight recent actions we have taken to protect the well-being of our community and the planet. Much hard work remains to be done, but I thank our internal Green Team and the many community partners and municipalities who are working with us to protect our region, develop a strong, green economy, and ensure that we lift up the vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities who are most impacted by climate change.”
Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning Thomas R. Hersey, Jr. added, “Climate Week is a great time to highlight some of the county’s recent efforts and to reaffirm our resolve to work with the community to implement smart climate actions and protect our community. I’m proud to work with the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and other commissioners, with our staff, and most importantly, with our community partners, to effect real change and achieve our climate goals.”
In 2020 Erie County achieved several important milestones towards its Paris goals, including:
• Releasing a Draft Climate Hazards Report as part of the Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (“CVA). The CVA assesses the threats posed by climate change to our community, the sensitivity of the community to those hazards, and the adaptive capacity of the Erie County to respond to those threats. Projected local impacts include more severe flood and wind events, higher temperatures and heat waves, and biological impacts from invasive species, vector borne disease, and harmful algal blooms. Many of these impacts will disproportionately impact vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities. The CVA is being conducted with input from community stakeholders on the Erie County Community Climate Change Task Force as well as public input through a community input survey.
• Conserving energy across many of the county’s largest buildings. Although not as visible as renewable energy projects, the greenest energy is the energy that is not used in the first place. Using an energy performance contract mechanism, the Erie County will invest $7 million in 109 projects at 23 county locations, resulting in $417,000 in recurring annual savings. Importantly, the projects will prevent the release of about 3,600 metric tons of GHG emissions annually, reducing the county’s greenhouse gas inventory by 7%. Projects include installing high efficiency lighting, upgrading heating and cooling systems, improving building controls, and air sealing and insulating building envelopes. This project is being managed by the Erie County Department of Public Works.
• Installing electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations at twelve public sites, many of them at county Parks. Transportation represents the largest part of the county’s carbon footprint and supporting EVs is an important way to green our transportation system. EVs emit up to 85% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline powered vehicles and help to reduce pollution that impacts human health.
To learn more about the county’s work on climate change visit www.erie.gov/sustainability .
For more information:
On the Department of Environment and Planning, visit https://www2.erie.gov/environment/
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