Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for CEAC draft Climate Action Plan (CAP)
Table of Contents
CEAC is the Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County. As a local non-profit and non-governmental organization, we work with partners to achieve deep reductions in local greenhouse gas emissions and to promote a healthy, sustainable local economy. CEAC is dedicated to supporting a thriving ecosystem of people, businesses and institutions in our rural area. CEAC’s board of director works closely with Addison County towns, local businesses, and community and environmental groups.
The Climate Action Plan (CAP) provides a blueprint for broad, community-supported reduction of local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The CAP presents decision-makers and the public with specific Strategies and Actions to implement in order to reduce Addison County’s greenhouse has (GHG) emissions and to ensure a long-term, sustainable local economy.
CEAC will use the CAP to guide and coordinate new and ongoing climate action efforts within Addison County. Reducing GHG emissions in the plan’s three important domains of transportation, buildings and agriculture will require the collaboration of a large number of people and organizations in many sectors. The final CAP will also aid in identifying economic opportunities for existing and future enterprises and assist with the creation of new “green jobs”. Implementing the plan will give individuals, businesses, organizations, and institutions the opportunity to take on defined roles in implementing the CAP’s strategies and actions.
In early 2021, CEAC chose paleBLUEdot (based in St. Paul, MN) as a planning consultant, recruited roughly a dozen local people with diverse interests and skills to be our core planning group, and scheduled our first planning workshop. We looked for people with specific expertise (for example, in farming or building design) who were committed to fighting climate change and willing to make a substantial volunteer time commitment.
During summer 2021, members of our core planning team carried out more than 50 interviews with key local persons in a wide variety of professions and organizations. We asked about activities already underway to fight climate change, ideas for local actions we could take, and reactions to a draft set of strategic goals. We refined the strategic goals, then defined draft actions that could be taken to advance each goal. Each potential action was assessed against three criteria:
- Is it likely to be supported by community partners? Is it politically feasible?
- Will implementation advance equity within the community? Does it address the needs of vulnerable or historically marginalized populations?
- When implemented, would it be game-changing in terms of reducing GHG releases?
Based on the potential reductions included in the CAP, CEAC recommends an initial CAP goal to reduce community-wide GHG emissions by 50% below 2017 levels by 2023 in alignment with both the State of Vermont and Paris Climate Agreement emissions reductions goals. The numeric goals were set partly by prorating the state-level goals from the Global Warming Solutions Act and the associated state CAP, and partly by an assessment (carried out by knowledgeable people in our core planning group) of what is feasible in our county over 8 years. The exact numeric targets are open for discussion and possible change as a result of the community input process currently underway.
The CAP is based in part on CEAC’s 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Addison County, and on additional analyses provided by our planning consultant, paleBLUEdot, and staff of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. In the State of Vermont, transportation and related equipment is the leading source of GHG emissions, followed closely by buildings and industry and more distantly by agriculture. Addison County is, however, one of the two counties in the state that contains the most land in agricultural use and the most head of livestock. This explains why agricultural activities contribute over 40% of our estimated GHG emissions. Accordingly, our planning work has been carried out in part in three working groups, focused on Agriculture; Buildings and Energy; and Transportation and Equipment. We have no reason to think Addison County farmers are contributing more than other Vermont farmers to GHG emissions, on a per-acre or per-head basis.
Our core planning group of a dozen people is listed in the CAP document and includes people with a very wide range of expertise, interests, and passions. Several additional local experts helped us with specific parts of the document. Over 50 residents of our county were interviewed in summer 2021 about what they are doing so far to reduce GHG emissions, what they would like our community to do, and how they would themselves like to be engaged.
Addison County is one of the two counties in the state that contains the most land in agricultural use and the most head of livestock. This explains why agricultural activities contribute over 40% of our estimated GHG emissions. In some other counties farming contributes much less than 12% of their GHG emissions. Also, our three ‘urban’ centers of Middlebury, Vergennes, and Bristol are only 3 of our 23 towns (plus one city), and together they have only about 40% of the population of the county – the remainder is about half farmland and half forest.
This CAP is broader than these energy plans, as it addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestration from agriculture and forestry, waste disposal, and industrial operations, as well as from energy use. Town and Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) plans typically adopt pro-rated shares of state GHG objectives related to energy, as does this county-level plan. Town plans will need to be updated to reflect the goals in the state Climate Action plan adopted in late 2021 to implement the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The present CAP already reflects those goals.
The present plan pro-rates several state-level goals from that state plan to Addison County, which has 5.6% of the state’s population. It is organized into the same broad categories as that document and has the same broad strategies. It is different in that it attempts to translate those strategies into local actions.
CEAC needs and values substantial and diverse community input on the draft CAP. Public input will inform revisions to the draft CAP and will help to ensure the CAP’s proposed Strategies and Actions have community-wide support prior to finalizing and implementing the CAP.
We are accepting public comments on the draft CAP through March 2022 via e-mail, public comment form, and in public meetings.
Meetings/Presentations: CEAC will be hosting two general community meetings in February to provide an overview of the CAP and to gather feedback from the community. There will also be sector-specific meetings and possibly smaller meetings with identified organizations, groups, and local businesses. The public meeting schedule and RSVP form can be found on CEAC’s climate action planning website.
Public Comment Form: CEAC’s climate action planning webpage has a link to a public comment form that folks can fill out with comments that they have on the draft CAP, questions they may have, and ways they would like to be involved.
Email: Please feel free to reach out to CEAC via our email at email@example.com or to any of the board members listed on the website if you would like to be involved or if you have comments or questions.
Implementing the actions specified in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) will help our community reduce its contribution to climate change and help us make the transition to a just, sustainable, and prosperous economy. This benefits everyone. The transition that Vermont and the entire country need to make will result in changes in how we get around, how we heat our homes, how we raise crops and livestock, and how industry makes its products. These changes can be gradual, over 8 to 10 years, but we need to start making the transition now. Implementing this plan in a thoughtful way can help all of us make the needed changes and adapt to them.
Implementing this CAP will require many new jobs. It will also require some retraining of workers into specialties that are more needed to reach these climate goals. For example, workers will be needed to carry out weatherization work, install cold-climate heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, and install electric vehicle charging stations. Just for those four functions, we estimate that as many as 250 new jobs (each lasting 8 years) will need to be created to do the projected work. Additional workers and equipment will also be needed to strengthen and extend our electric grid, to install solar arrays, to pursue new methods of manure management, no-till crop management, livestock feeding, and timber land management, to remodel our public environment to better support non-motorized movement of people, and so on.
Each section of the plan addresses equity considerations in that domain. One of the criteria used to select possible actions for this plan was whether implementation would advance equity within the community, and whether it addresses the needs of vulnerable or historically marginalized populations. We recognize that these issues can be complex, and that we may have blind spots about how our proposed actions may differentially affect people according to income level or fail to address structural inequities. In the current community feedback process, we very much want to hear any concerns about whether our proposed actions meet this test or not. We also would like to hear how the CEAC and its partners, through the CAP, can better address these issues and advance equity within your community.
CEAC expects to take a leadership role in implementation. From day to day, implementation will fall to volunteer champions and implementers, working alone and in small groups. Many activities mentioned in the plan are already under way, independent of CEAC. CEAC is a non-governmental organization, entirely dependent on volunteer effort and financial donations, with no authority to require anyone to do anything.
Many of the actions in this Plan will call on businesses, communities, and individuals to spend money or other resources on new or different activities, equipment, or services. Some of the expenditures will pay for themselves over time in lower ongoing costs. Addison County’s general success in meeting goals change goals will depend partly on new or redirected funding from federal and state governments, partly on new levels private investment, and partly on implementing novel financing methods that allow upfront expenses to be paid off from future operational savings. Significant funds ($200 million) have already been earmarked for climate and energy initiatives in Vermont’s proposed FY 23 State budget and even larger amounts of federal funding (e.g., the climate portions of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan) may become available later in 2022.