GHG Emissions Data

Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Addison County, VT

Introduction

This greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory report was created to estimate GHG emissions occurring within Addison County, for use by town energy committees and planning commissions, the Addison County Regional Planning Commission and interested members of the public. Only when emissions are tracked locally, using local data, can the community implement and monitor the success of targeted and informed programs to reduce these emissions. When community emissions are reported on a regular basis, for example every few years, a community can directly track its progress.

This report describes an estimate for the greenhouse gas emissions released by Addison County for the year 2017. We accounted for emissions of the three greenhouse gasses that have the most climate impact for American communities: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Addison County was the boundary of the inventory — including the towns of Addison, Bridport, Bristol, Cornwall, Ferrisburgh, Goshen, Granville, Hancock, Leicester, Lincoln, Middlebury, Monkton, New Haven, Orwell, Panton, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham, Starksboro, Vergennes, Waltham, Weybridge, and Whiting. Local data were used, rather than state or regional data, wherever possible. Data are displayed for 2017, the most recent year for which all the needed data sources were complete. Future reports will be able to include data from more recent years, and to show trends over time.

Four major sectors account for the vast majority of GHG emissions: buildings, transportation, waste, and agriculture. These emissions result from electricity consumption, fuel combustion, landfill deposits, wastewater treatment processes, raising livestock and managing soil. This inventory does not include emissions from air travel nor upstream emissions of goods made elsewhere but consumed in Addison County, and does not consider carbon sequestration or GHG releases from Addison County forests or from farm land.

Almost all of the following values are estimates, which may have some degree of random or systematic error. As long as methods are consistent in future years, it will be possible to track changes in how much the county emits relative to this baseline. The inventory follows the latest community inventory protocol published by Local Government for Sustainability (known as ICLEI), which is widely used. The methods outlined in the protocol were followed as closely as possible.

Executive Summary

In 2017, Addison County released an estimated 742,720 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO₂e). (Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are converted into the equivalent amounts of CO2 in terms of global warming impact so they can be compared to CO2 emissions and to each other.  Gram for gram, methane is a much more potent GHG than CO2 by a factor of 28, even though it does not last as long in the atmosphere.)

The largest source of Addison County emissions was agricultural activities, at 303,000 MTCO₂e, followed by transportation (gasoline and diesel), at 202,000 MTCO₂e, and heating fuels at 157,000 MTCO2e. Agriculture is such a large source of emissions because the county is home to many dairy farms and other farming operations, with about a quarter of the state’s cattle living within the county, and many of these operations are sources of methane.[1]

At the state level, by comparison, transportation is the highest emitting sector.[2] Reflecting its status as one of Vermont’s most productive agricultural counties, Addison County had a higher percentage of its GHG emissions from agriculture than the state as a whole (40.8% versus 12.2%). A comprehensive approach to GHG reduction will need to address transportation, building heat, and agriculture.

Addison County had an estimated population of 36,776 in 2017, with 14,701 households and 19,872 employed persons.[3] The county’s per capita emissions are estimated at 21.0 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, while in 2016 Vermont’s value was 15.6 metric tons[4] and the U.S. value was 20 metric tons[5].  Vermont’s value was the highest among the New England states plus New York.  These estimates are made by different groups using various methods and may not be strictly comparable. The fact that this inventory’s results are similar to those for the state and nation is nonetheless reassuring about the validity of our methods. What is most essential for the county is to compare it to itself year by year using consistent methods.  

Estimated GHG Emissions totals by sector,
Addison County VT, 2017  
SectorEmissions (mTCO2e)Percent of total emissions
Electricity               24,0003.2%
Natural Gas               25,5003.4%
Delivered fuels (propane, kerosene, fuel oil)             157,00021.1%
Wood               10,6001.4%
Motor gasoline and diesel             202,00027.2%
Wastewater               18,1602.4%
Solid waste                 2,4600.3%
Agriculture             303,00040.8%
Total           742,720100.0%

[1]https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Full_Report/Volume_1,_Chapter_2_County_Level/Vermont/st50_2_0011_0011.pdf

[2] https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_and_Forecast_1990-2016.pdf p. 11

[3] https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/STAT_2017_Population_Estimates_Bulletin.pdf

[4] https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/aqc/climate-change/documents/_Vermont_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Inventory_and_Forecast_1990-2016.pdf

[5] https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-01/documents/2018_complete_report.pdf