Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Addison County, VT, 2017 and 2020
Estimated Addison County greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020 were 694,000 tons of CO2-equivalent (CO2e), up 3.2% from 672,000 tons in 2017.
We are burning up globally and we are not making measurable progress toward our local community-wide 2030 goal of a 50% reduction below 2017 levels. We now need to decrease our Addison County emissions by 358,000 tons, or almost 45,000 tons per year, to reach the goal of 336,000 tons in 2030.
As in 2017, the major sources of CO2e emissions in Addison County in 2020 were agriculture, building heat (propane, fuel oil, natural gas, and wood), and vehicles. See graphic below. Agriculture is prominent in our county’s emissions because it is the major industry in the county.
In 2020, GHG releases attributable to vehicles were down compared to 2017, while those attributable to building heat had increased. Both these changes, also observed elsewhere, are thought to be due to lockdowns and other restrictions put in place due to COVID-19 – people drove less and spent more time at home with the heat on. We do not know yet to what extent these changes have been sustained in 2021 and into 2022.
GHG releases attributable to electricity generation are down because Green Mountain Power has progressively been increasing the proportion of zero-carbon and renewable electricity in its portfolio.
Slight decreases in agricultural emissions are attributable to reductions in the numbers of animals on farms and of acres farmed.
Wherever possible, we followed the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as implemented in protocols published by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). However, we provide selected alternative or supplemental analyses: for example, using a 20-year time horizon for methane emissions, rather than a 100-year horizon; including fugitive emissions of methane associated with natural gas extraction, processing and distribution; counting wood burning as fully or only partially renewable; and the adoption of various agricultural practices intended to reduce GHG emissions.
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.
Purpose of GHG Inventory
This document is intended to provide actionable information related to options for reducing GHG emissions. It is intended for audiences including: the general public; homeowners and owners of rental properties; contractors and builders (general construction, HVAC, electrical, solar); town selectboards and energy committees; the Addison County Regional Planning Commission and its Energy Committee; and persons in charge of buildings, enterprises and organizations such as schools, churches, businesses, farms, and industrial facilities.
We intend that the analyses presented here will help motivate, direct, and support necessary change in our county. As this greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory is repeated every two years going forward, we will increasingly be able to document where we have made progress and where we still have the most work to do.
Put simply, we need to replace every aging piece of fossil-fuel equipment (cars, trucks, buses, building heating, construction, industrial, and agricultural equipment, and so on) with its electric equivalent — as it needs replacement or before. Reducing energy use through efficiency and conservation will make the needed changes more affordable and provide immediate GHG benefits but cannot be the whole solution by itself. Change will result from literally thousands of individual decisions by people in our county. Those decisions can and will be supported by large-scale policy decisions made elsewhere (like rebates or subsidies for electric vehicles or heat pumps, improvements to the electric transmission grid, or a Clean Heat Standard for buildings), but the decisions are essential at a local level. The effect of those decisions will be visible in successive editions of this inventory.