On Monday, June 26th, the Climate Action Collaborative (CAC) hosted its first semi-annual stakeholder meeting of 2023. CAC stakeholder meetings are an opportunity to come together and receive pertinent updates regarding CAC progress and work, along with an educational presentation from an outside organization. Stakeholder meetings are open to the public and we encourage participation from all the unique corners of our community.
One of the most important sessions during the meeting, and arguably the most anticipated from the community, was a first look at the 2022 Eagle County greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Yearly emissions inventories are an opportunity to measure our progress against our greenhouse gas reduction goals. Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), a non-profit in Garfield County, has been producing our inventories for the last couple of years. We heard a presentation from the inventory’s author, Christina Matzl, where she shared the data she’s collected so far. The full emissions inventory will be finished and published soon.
Based on the emissions inventory, we learned that buildings, both residential and commercial, remain Eagle County’s highest source of emissions, at 48%. Encouragingly, building emissions have decreased 17% from the 2014 baseline, but did increase 6% between 2021 and 2022. Emissions increases after the COVID-19 pandemic have been an unfortunately common global trend. Interestingly, natural gas emissions from buildings have gone up 7% since 2021, despite seeing a 72% increase in the cost of natural gas, further driving home the need for an all-electric future. The Eagle County Code Cohort’s effort to adopt sustainable building codes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new construction. Benchmarking and building performance standards are one of the most effective ways to decrease emissions from existing building stocks.
The second largest source of emissions, after buildings, is ground transportation, responsible for 41.8% of Eagle County’s emissions. Since 2021, ground transportation emissions have gone up 5%. It’s important to note that in-county traffic, or trips that start and end in Eagle County, account for only 25% of ground transportation emissions. The other 75% comes from transportation in and out of the county, or trips that start in the county but end elsewhere, or vice versa. We hope to see transportation emissions drop with increased electric vehicle adoption and the use of public transportation.
Based on the data available, Eagle County emissions have increased 7% since our 2014 baseline, however per capita emissions have gone down 2% over the same time period. Per our Climate Action Plan goal, we’re committed to achieving 50% emissions reduction by 2030, from our 2014 baseline. In short, we have a lot of progress to make, and we’re dependent on our community’s support and buy-in to meet this goal. Some things Eagle County residents can do to reduce emissions include: making home energy efficiency improvements through Energy Smart Colorado, commuting to work via electric, human-powered, or shared transportation, and diverting your home waste correctly.
Another big highlight of the stakeholder meeting was a presentation from Beatriz Soto, Director of the Protégete program at Conservation Colorado. Protégete is described as “an initiative of Conservation Colorado dedicated to building Latine environmental leadership and power to help drive climate, land, water and environmental justice policy forward.” Soto drove home the point that since Colorado Latinos emit 40% less carbon emissions than white Coloradoans, climate programming geared towards Latino communities must be tailored to account for this different context. In support of this notion, we learned that 20% of Colorado Latino households are in mobile home parks, where energy bills per square foot are 65% higher than site-built homes. Read that again.
Soto’s presentation delivered an incredible amount of valuable information, touching on the spheres of green space, pollution, water, and energy. We are grateful to hear such a timely and informative presentation about environmental justice across Colorado. Showcasing our commitment to equitable and inclusive climate action work, Walking Mountains Sustainability Programs received an environmental justice grant earlier this year, allowing us to hire a bilingual sustainability outreach coordinator. With the help of this new staff member, we’re hoping to grow intentional sustainability programming for our Spanish speaking population here in Eagle County, and develop meaningful relationships along the way.
The stakeholder meeting concluded with updates from our six working groups, who have been working towards the emissions-reduction strategies found within our Climate Action Plan. We’re eager to accomplish the goals we set for this year and launch a new suite of programs next year. Our next stakeholder meeting will be in early December. If you’d like to attend, please send me an email (email@example.com) and we’ll make sure you’re sent more information. Happy summer!
Gina McCrackin is the Climate Action Collaborative Manager at Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.