Albemarle CACs are being briefed on county’s climate action implementation

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted a Climate Action Plan in October 2020 to help guide the county’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent of a baseline by the year 2030. That’s the first step before a second goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and the baseline is derived from the year 2008. 

Albemarle Climate Program Coordinator Gabe Dayley began his journey through the county advisory panels by asking the Crozet Community Advisory Committee what their first thoughts are when thinking about climate action and what he might have as an update. (review Dayley’s presentation)

“I’ll jump in because I hope that I will hear some real substantive things that we’re going to do and not just talk about them,” said Supervisor Ann Mallek. 

Another CAC member said he’s noticed temperature changed over the decades. Kostas Alibertis has been in Crozet since the 1980’s. 

“Truly in the winter time we used to be a lot cooler than Charlottesville and now our temperature seems to be more comparable to Charlottesville,” Alibertis said. “I think that some of the growth has taken away some of the coverage, the greenery and the grass, and that’s led to the community being a little warmer. Maybe I’m completely wrong about that, but how do we address what we’ve lost?” 

There are some new members of the Crozet CAC and this was the first for Mallory DeCoster.

“I feel excited that this is a topic because this is my first meeting and I joined this group because I care about the environmental issues particularly in this county,” DeCoster said. 

Another new member is local Realtor Jim Duncan, who said more needs to be done about getting infrastructure built to get people out of their cars. 

“Climate change is a real legitimate thing but I don’t know what the viable action items are that the CAC can voice our opinion on,” Duncan said. 

A pie chart depicts the 2008 baseline for greenhouse  gas emissions in Albemarle and their sources (Source: Climate Action Plan, Albemarle County)

The Climate Action Plan was adopted prior to the review of the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan which is currently underway. Dayley said the overarching Comprehensive Plan that will be adopted will be influenced by the climate plan as well as efforts to include equity as a major consideration in future county decisions.  He also said there’s a lot of work to be done.

“Climate change is big and can feel overwhelming and I think sometimes in professional spaces, policy spaces, local government, and science we can shy away from that side of things,” Dayley said. “But the number two point is that there is research showing that actually kind of like acknowledging our reaction whatever it might be to climate change might move us to effective actions.”

Dayley said everyone can take actions to be part of the solutions to meet community targets. Dayley said CACs can play a role in communicating back to the public what the county and its partners are doing.

There are four themes to Albemarle’s Climate Action Plan that mirror the county’s adopted missions and values. 

“Through our efforts to address global climate change we also want to attend to our local health of people and place here, benefiting the local economy through our climate action,” Dayley said. “Also the local environment and thinking about some of our intersecting county priorities like clean water and biodiversity and then making sure the work that we do and the services we offer to folks are equitable and inclusive in how they involve people in the community and bring benefits.”

The plan itself has 135 action areas to reduce emissions for each of the sources including transportation, land use, building energy use, sustainable materials, renewable energy sources, agricultural and natural resources and more. 

The most recent inventory of greenhouse gas emissions dates back to 2018 and another one is underway now that will give a glimpse into 2020. In September, the Board of Supervisors was told more work needs to be done to meet the 2030 targets. (read previous coverage)

A slide from the presentation depicts how Albemarle reduction efforts fared in 2018

Dayley said for the county, climate action means things like transitioning to an electric fleet and continuing to make county buildings more efficient. 

“We’re also looking at how the county manages landscapes it owns and that includes things like parks and natural areas as well as school grounds,” Dayley said. “We’re soon going to be looking at also our procurement and the sustainability of the materials that we procure like plastics and paper and things like that.”

A second phase for the climate action plan will be on adaptation and mitigation and to prepare for impacts. The results of a climate vulnerability and risk assessment will be available for review in the coming months. 

As Albemarle reviews its Comprehensive Plan and the growth management policy, Dayley said one idea is to continue to build places to live that are more dense to support public transit. Study and analysis by county staff demonstrates the role that conservation of existing ecological resources can play.

“They found that our forests are helping us quite a lot,” Dayley said. “They are sequestering and drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, almost a million carbon dioxide metric tons a year.”

Another slide from Dayley’s presentation discusses the role forests can play in drawing down carbon dioxide

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 May 17, 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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