Responding to Climate Change at the Local Level


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Presentation from a Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies public forum on climate change b

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  • SPEAKER TALKING POINTSEarlier in this presentation I discussed some of the changes we are seeing and will continue to see in New York as a result of warming global temperatures. Climate adaptation is a response to climate change that seeks to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to the effects of climate change. Long term planning:Our energy sources and their supply and demand are changing over time. GHG emissions may be further regulated in the future. Communities can take control of their energy costs by investing in energy efficiency and renewable sources – like solar power.Some changes in our climate are already “in the pipeline” as a result of past GHG emissions. We cannot avoid these changes, but we can prepare for them by setting up means to adapt. For instance, extreme rainfall/snowfall events have increased 67% in the last 50 years in the Northeast (U.S. Global Change Research Program). Therefore, it is important to make plans for these changes by preserving natural shoreline areas to buffer against flooding.
  • Some communities are already taking steps to reduce their vulnerability by sitting new development away from areas at high risk of flooding, enacting local laws to conserve wetlands to absorb floodwaters, enacting street tree ordinances to keep urban areas cool, and by taking steps to reduce storm water. Prepare for disasters (flooding, heat waves, and power outages) by preparing emergency evacuation plans, recovery plans, and determine alternate routes, and sources of power and water. Do a flood water vulnerability assessment, take appropriate measures to decrease those areas that are highly vulnerable, and plan for evacuation and recovery of those areas. This can include storm water management. Insulate buildings, plant trees, have green roofs to better withstand heat wavesPreserve green and open spaces that will help shade buildings to reduce heat, and buffer against flood events.
  • Local Action leads to local benefits…Improving operations and upgrading infrastructure: Improving the energy efficiency of aging infrastructure by retrofitting or upgrading will save operating dollars in the years to come. Energy efficiency improvements also present opportunities to improve air quality and modernize aging infrastructure. The technical and operational changes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions often will reduce other air pollutants at the same time. Saving taxpayer dollars: Reducing energy costs and improving operational efficiency will lower local governments’ operating costs and save taxpayer dollars. Climate smart land use practices can lower infrastructure and service costs as well. NYSERDA estimates that New York’s county governments alone could save an estimated $10 million annually by adopting existing energy-efficient purchasing standards for office equipment. Promoting economic growth: Climate protection will create a demand for workers and providers of “green” (energy efficiency and renewable energy) products and services. A study by the University of Massachusetts and the Center for American Progress found that the job creation effect of investment in low-carbon energy is more than three times that of investment in fossil fuel energy production because conservation and low-carbon energy projects are more labor intensive than fossil fuel projects, and because more of the money spent on green projects stays within the local or national economy – retrofitting and upgrading buildings and facilities cannot be “offshored.” Creating Desirable communities: Community-wide climate protection also helps to maintain property values by making communities desirable and attractive to new residents.
  • SPEAKER TALKING POINTS:See ‘Local Gov’t Resources’ handout or Climate Change initiatives for NYSThe New York State Office of Climate Change was created to lead the development of programs and polices, in concert with other DEC programs and New York State agencies, that help NY communities and individuals mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the changes in climate. Their office is based out of Albany, NY. The New York Climate Action Council (CAC) is comprised of 15 agency heads or representatives of the Executive Chamber; they are responsible for the creation of the New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report. Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a partnership between New York State and local communities who’s goal is to lower greenhouse gases and save taxpayer dollars through climate smart actions that also promote community health and safety, affordability, economic strength and quality of life. This is done through the drafting of a CSC pledge that outlines a plan to achieve the CSC goals. InternationalCouncil for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability is a international organization comprised of local, national, and regional local governments. It has over 1200 members from 70 different countries who represent governments committed to sustainability development. The organization provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support it’s members in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)is a public benefit corporation who’s responsibilities include the financing of energy-related projects and energy education and training programs, conducting a energy and environmental research and development program, making energy more affordable for residential and income eligible households, helping businesses and organizations implement energy efficiency measures, providing energy analysis and planning to guide decisions of major energy stakeholders and administering the NY Energy $mart program. NYS Energy Efficiency Clearinghouse is a web site designed to display all the NYS energy efficient programs available to various institutions. How Green is my Town? is a environmental assessment program that includes a checklist to determine how green a town is, a collection of policy and program ideas from other non-profits and government agencies, and a list of green products and services.
  • Responding to Climate Change at the Local Level

    1. 1. Interactive PanelDiscussion:Responding to Climate Changeat the Local LevelAllison M. ChatrchyanCornell Cooperative ExtensionStatewide Energy & Climate Change Team
    2. 2. Climate Change at a Local Level “Nation-states will be unable to meet their international commitments for addressingImportance of Local Government climate change without local action.”in NY: - Bulkeley and Betsill (2002)• Home Rule State: 1605counties, cities, towns andvillages• Local government has authorityto address planning, zoning, landuse, and local environmentprotection
    3. 3. Local Governments are Key Climate Actors• Consume energy in operations• Manage solid waste• Authority over local land use (NY)• Invest in development• Involve local citizens
    4. 4. Climate Change Mitigation• Actions that will reduce the ultimate magnitude of climate change.• Individuals: Figure out your Carbon Footprint and Reduce your Energy Use
    5. 5. Climate Change AdaptationAdopting actions to reducethe impacts/risks of changesthat will occur.
    6. 6. What Communities Can Do NYS DEC Climate Smart Communities Pledge96 New York Communities Adopted to Date: 1. Designate Lead Agency, Create Task Force/Committee, join ICLEI or similar program 2. Set Goals, Inventory Emissions, Move to Action 3. Decrease Energy Demand for Local Government Operations 4. Encourage Renewable Energy for Local Government Operations 5. Realize Benefits of Recycling and Climate Smart Solid Waste Management 6. Promote Climate Protection Through Community Land Use Tools 7. Plan for Adaptation to Unavoidable Climate Change 8. Support a Green Innovation Economy 9. Educate and Inform the Public 10. Evaluate & Commit to an Evolving Process
    7. 7. What Communities Can Do Climate Change MitigationCommunity Planning Decisions – Smart Growth:• Update Comprehensive Plans• Encourage more dense land use development• Transit-oriented development, reducing vehicle miles traveled• Plan more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environmentsDutchess County Greenway Compact & Centers and Green Spaces Plan:
    8. 8. What Communities Can Do Climate Change Adaptation: Win-Win Solutions• Update Comprehensive Plans• Support Local Watershed Planning• Adopt in Local Ordinances: Aquifers, Floodplains, Stream Buffers, Wetlands, Open Space & Farmland• Promote On Site Stormwater Mgmt & Green Infrastructure• Inventory Infrastructure: Bridges/Water Treatment Plants• Prepare Natural Resource Inventory’s:
    9. 9. Fringe Benefits• Reduce Risks & Prepare for Disasters• Improve Operations• Upgrade Infrastructure• Save Taxpayer Dollars• Promote Economic Growth – Green Jobs• Create Desirable, Sustainable communities: Smart Growth & Low Impact Development
    10. 10. Resources for Communities Cornell Climate Change PWT: NYS DEC Office of Climate Change: NYS Climate Action Council: Climate Smart Communities: NYSERDA: NYS Energy Efficiency Clearinghouse: How Green is my Town? ICLEI-Local Govt’s for Sustainability:
    11. 11. Questions for our Panel? Allison Chatrchyan, Ph.D. CCE Dutchess County CCE Energy & Climate Change Team Cornell Climate Change Program Work Team email: tel: 845.677.8223 x 136