Climate change is a global phenomenon with serious local implications. International scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), have assessed the scientific literature and drawn conclusions that are macro in scale. However, it will take collective actions on a smaller scale to effectively address them. Our local community is also concerned about the effects of anthropogenic climate change, as evidenced by the signing of documents from local leaders1 that commit the constituencies they represent to greenhouse gas reductions. The first step to reduction begins with establishing a baseline of current emissions. The City of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia (UVa), and the County of Albemarle have in the past year documented their respective baseline emissions of greenhouse gases. This documentation will be used by the City, University, and County to set reduction goals and to develop the means and methods to meet those goals.
Using Governor Kaine’s strategy of establishing a blue ribbon Commission on Climate Change as a model, the mission of our Steering Committee will be to support our Local Climate Action Planning Process (LCAPP). It is anticipated that outcomes from our LCAPP will shape public policies and programs as we individually and collectively look to reduce our contribution to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Steering Committee will ultimately issue a report outlining strategies that are particular to each entity, as well as those that present regional opportunities. In the end, each participating entity will have to determine what is appropriate for implementation and how that implementation will take place. However, the expectation is that in those areas where cooperation and synergy are needed, Charlottesville, UVa, and Albemarle will share an approach.
Given that the goal is to coordinate and collaborate on opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Steering Committee’s tasks will be to review and approve of Focus Group recommendations. Focus Groups will explore particular issues such as energy efficiency, waste and recycling, renewable energy, etc., and they will be supported by appropriate staff from the City and County. Steering Committee members will meet every two months and Focus Groups every two weeks. The process and range of recommendations will be documented in a report (compiled by staff) and presented to the respective entities by the end of calendar year 2009. It is expected that the Steering Committee will help the City, UVa, and County communicate the substance of this report to the wider community.
1 US Mayor’s Climate Agreement (Charlottesville), the Talloires Declaration (UVa), and the US Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Declaration (Albemarle)
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