IPCC releases new report seeking quick action on greenhouse gas emissions

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that production of greenhouse gas emissions across planet Earth were at their highest levels in recorded history, but suggests the rate may be slowing. 

“Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach,” reads the press release to mark the approval yesterday of an IPCC working group’s report called Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change.

The report states an 85 percent drop in the costs of solar and wind energy, as well as a push in many countries for laws and policies to reduce energy efficiency, limit deforestation, and create new forms of renewable energy. The report encourages creation of compact, walkable cities, a transition to electric fleets for public transportation, and further development of technologies to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it.

According to the release, the IPCC’s overall strategy is to reduce warming to 1.5°C requires the greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025, and to begin to have them reduced 43 percent by 2030. 

What are local governments doing?

Charlottesville 

Charlottesville City Council will have a work session on April 18 to discuss efforts by city staff toward a climate action plan. (visit the city’s website)

This morning, the city announced the hiring of a company to review over forty public buildings to see how energy and water use can be reduced. CMTA Energy Solutions will perform the audit, which includes city schools. 

“The Technical Energy Audits currently underway are part of the first phase of an Energy Saving Performance Contract (ESPC) process that aligns directly with fulfilling the City of Charlottesville’s commitment to climate action and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions,” reads the news release that went out today

The city’s public buildings cover an area of 1.7 million square feet. The audit will inform plans to upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, upgrade lighting, and install new plumbing. 

Charlottesville City Council adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in November 2021 that contains several strategies to help the city meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The above is from Chapter 7 on Environment, Climate, and Food Equity. (page 65 of the Comprehensive Plan document)

Albemarle

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted a Climate Action Plan on October 7, 2020. The Facilities and Environmental Services Department releases a quarterly report that includes updates on steps Albemarle is taking to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s some highlights from the latest report:

  • The grounds crew that takes care of county buildings are switching to all electric tools and vehicles. 
  • Albemarle will launch an “environmental stewardship hub” online to collect county resources for community members on county programs to promote biodiversity, clean water, climate action, and reduced waste. This should happen around Earth Day, or April 22
  • Solar powered lights have been installed at electric vehicle charging stations at the McIntire Road County Office Building. 
  • County staff in the Environmental Services Division have developed a mapping resource to assist property owners with flooding issues, sinkholes, poor water quality. There’s a whole article in the report about how collecting this information in one place can identify causes to specific problems such as blocked drainage pipes. 
An electric mower is tested by a member of the Albemarle grounds crew (read the FES report)

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia’s reductions emission plans are documented in the 2020-2030 UVA Sustainability Plan. The UVA Sustainability Office’s report to the Board of Visitors is available for review in the March meeting packet for the Buildings and Grounds Committee. (page 20 of this document)

Some examples:

  • Student programs include the Zero Waste Ambassadors program which seeks to increase composting across UVA Grounds, the Cville Solar Project, and something called the Shut the Sash Challenge
  • Professor Ben Laugelli has a course this spring called Science, Technology, and Contemporary Issues: Designing for a Sustainable World that will seek to direct further ways UVA can reach its goals 
  • Other recent courses include Professor Kate Stephenson’s Writing about Food Justice, and Designing a Carbon-Neutral Future, Sustainability Leadership: From the Grounds Up, and Write Climate

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 5, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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