May 2022 Climate Action Plan Article

Lane County Climate Action Plan

 

The Background

 

In February 2020, the Lane County Board of Commissioners passed a Board Order that instructed staff to begin developing a Climate Action Plan. A Climate Action Team (CAT) from various County departments was assembled and the Climate Strategist was hired. The CAT developed a three-phase approach to developing the County’s Climate Action Plan:

  1. Phase I—Develop an internal plan for County operations to establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and implementation plans.
  2. Phase 2—Develop a countywide greenhouse gas mitigation plan to establish countywide community targets and high priority areas of action; and
  3. Develop a climate resiliency plan to identify adaptation strategies to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change anticipated for Lane County.

 

Phase I

 

After completing a greenhouse gas inventory county staff used the results to inform the development of this operational climate action plan and to establish related goals for emission reductions. To develop the plan, County staff, with support from Good Company identified potential greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) reduction actions. These actions have the potential to reduce Scope 1 and 21 emissions (except landfill) by 66% MT CO2e in 2030 – on track for a Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 goal. This plan was approved in October 2020.

 

This CAP focuses on County operations, facilities, and employee actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, contribute to the efficiency of County operations, and make sound financial investments for years to come. The CAP identifies steps needed to reduce greenhouse gases in the next ten years and beyond.

 

Climate Action highlights include:

 

Facilities (natural gas and electricity use)

  • Purchase 100% Renewable Electricity and Purchase Carbon Offsets for Natural Gas Use

 

Fleet (owned vehicles)

  • Use 100% Renewable Diesel and Procure Additional Electric Vehicles

 

Supply Chain

  • Use of Low-Impact Asphalt and concrete (30% reclaimed material substitution)

 

Landfill Emissions

  • Construct Anaerobic Digestion System at Short Mountain Landfill to Process Organic Waste

 

Other Agency-wide

  • Create Telecommuting and Mode Shift Options for Staff

     

How Can I Help Reduce Emissions at Work?

 

Greenhouse gas emissions come from three basic categories—how we get around, how we operate our buildings, and the stuff we buy and use. This gives us three areas where we can look to lower our emissions:

 

Getting around

  • Use an EV if they are available and it fits your needs. Lane County will soon have 11 EVs in their fleet and EVs have great range and are fun to drive.
  • Try to have an alternative commute—walk, bike, or roll to work or take the bus. Check with your supervisor to see if telecommuting is an option. The fewer days we drive to work, the better.

 

Buildings

  • Make sure you turn off unused appliances and equipment when not in use (including computers).
  • Check your thermostat.

 

Stuff We Buy and Use

  • Before ordering new supplies and office furniture, check with Purchasing to see if Lane County already has it in stock in the warehouse. There are used options available.
  • Many suppliers now offer “low carbon” purchasing—look for the lowest greenhouse gas options for your new purchases.

 

Phase II—The Community Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Plan

 

Lane County began the process of developing a Community Climate Action Plan back in August 2020. Staff, working with Good Company, conducted a community wide action plan survey to ask people how they wanted to be engaged and what topics they wanted to discuss.  County staff used these results to create a work plan.

 

Additionally, staff and Good Company conducted a community-wide GHG inventory that was presented to the Board in December 2020. A snapshot of these emissions is displayed below. Local emissions, the ones people have the most control over, total over 4.2 MMTCO2e in 2019. Emissions from stuff we buy and use (indirect emissions) totaled another 3.7 MMTCO2e. Local forests sequester about 4.8 MMTCO2 annually, about half of what we emit.

 

chart 

 

Based on the work plan and inventory results, Lane County staff began a six-month long public engagement process:

  • five topic-focused stakeholder meetings with utilities, cities, districts, and state agencies.
  • six community-focused virtual meetings—both topic and location based.
  • an “online open house” where community members were invited to learn more about Lane County’s emissions and potential actions to reduce emissions. An online survey
  • individual community based interviews and attended several virtual meetings. These meetings and interviews covered a wide range of topics and involved individuals and groups from across Lane County.

Based on these meetings and generally recognized best practices, county staff put together a list of ten actions the community can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using the latest and best available data, these actions were “scaled” by Good Company to determine the reduction potential on emissions in each of the categories both now and through the year 2040. Collectively, these actions would reduce Lane County’s greenhouse gas emissions by 72% by 2040.

  1. Electric vehicles
  2. R99 diesel
  3. Electrical grid
  4. Edible food waste reduction
  5. Residential appliances
  6. Mass transit
  7. Refrigerant management
  8. Active commute and telecommute
  9. Landfill anaerobic digestion
  10. Energy efficiency and conservation

 

What Can I do at Home?

 

Just like at work, greenhouse gas emissions associated with your home can be broken down into three categories. Some of the actions you can take include:

 

Getting around

  • Buy an electric vehicle (EV) when it’s time to replace your sedan. Prices are coming down, range is going up, and new models and styles are available. Plus, they will save you money and they are fun to drive.

Buildings

  • Decarbonize your appliances—EWEB has identified installing a heat pump water heater as one of the best payback actions you can take and they are offering about $800 off a new heater.
  • Explore a heat pump for your home—it offers heating in the winter AND cooling in the summer (something that will be very valuable as temperatures keep rising).
  • Weatherize your home. All utilities offer incentive programs for home upgrades.

Stuff We Buy and Use

  • Think re-use or purchasing less. Things like fossil fuels, building materials, meat and dairy, and clothing require a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to get to our homes.
  • Avoid wasting food and dispose of food waste properly. Over 30% of food produced in the US is wasted and when it gets put in the landfill, it creates a lot of greenhouse gases. Try using curbside composting (available to Eugene residents, coming soon to Springfield) or backyard composting.

Phase III —the Climate Resilience Plan

 

The Lane County Climate Team began working on Phase 3, the Community Climate Resilience Plan in the fall of 2021. This phase focuses on how we as a community can prepare ourselves to avoid the worst effects of climate change on our physical, social, and economic systems. 

 

Staff are looking at seven different conditions (wildfire and smoke, heat, drought, precipitation, winter storms, oceanic impacts, and transitional effects) that are projected to arise or change as our climate continues to shift.  Staff have prepared background information and potential vulnerabilities for each of the seven conditions.  Next, staff are going to be co-hosting a community meeting on June 25 to look at potential strategies for addressing these vulnerabilities.

 

The Climate Team has made an effort to reach out to Lane County employees who may have ideas or concerns about vulnerabilities and strategies. However, if we have missed you and you would be willing to share your ideas, please reach out to the Climate Resilience Analyst Cody Kleinsmith.

 

Climate Plan Equity

 

For years, it has been understood that institutionally underserved residents, including our low income, BIPOC, and older community members, are facing disproportional impacts from climate change. These groups may not have the financial means or access to power to safeguard their existing living conditions amidst impacts of climate change such as: extreme heat, flooding, sea level rise, and dangerous air quality.

 

Internally, Lane County recently developed a draft Equity Lens. The purpose of an equity lens is to be deliberately inclusive as Lane County makes policy decisions. This lens is intended to be used moving forward for all Lane County policy decisions. The Climate Action Team met to discuss the high-impact practices proposed in the Climate Action Plan using the Equity Lens and flagged potential unintended consequences for some residents. However, equity work needs to be improved going forward and staff are committed to working with local community based organizations to ensure future plans and actions meet the needs of the community as best as possible.

 

Contact Information

 

For any questions about Lane County’s Climate Action Plan, please reach out to:

 

 


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