Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today joined Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte, Commissioner of Public Works William Geary, Commissioner of Environment and Planning Tom Hersey, and Chair of the Environmental Management Council Anne Bergantz to announce the completion of a new report, “Erie County Commits to Paris: How Erie County Can Meet U.S. Target Reductions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions”. The report is the product of a working group formed to identify strategies for the county to meet the target goals set out by the international Paris Climate Agreement, which the federal government announced its intention to withdraw from on June 1, 2017.  On June 2, 2017 County Executive Poloncarz issued his seventeenth Executive Order in response to the federal decision, directing county departments to prepare a report to implement a plan of action for Erie County to meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement by 2025.

The report, which can be read here, identifies the greenhouse gas emission inventory for the Paris Climate Agreement baseline year of 2005 for both Erie County government and the community at large, as well as for 2014, the most recent year with complete data.

The report found that compared to the baseline year of 2005, Erie County as a government had already reduced its greenhouse gas emission usage by 26% in 2014, thereby meaning Erie County has met the goal of a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions usage as required by the Paris Climate Agreement.

The report also found that the Erie County community at large saw a 12% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions usage in 2014 compared to the baseline year of 2005. In addition, the report describes actions Erie County has already undertaken to further decrease greenhouse gas emissions as well as ways in which the county can provide community leadership to further the mission of decreasing our region’s carbon footprint from the 2014 reduction of 12% to the goal of 26%.

“There is no debate among the scientific community on the impact greenhouse gases are having on our global environment: hurricanes are more severe, droughts and wild fires are worse, winter storms, as we all know, are getting stronger, and our world is getting hotter. Our climate is changing, and not for the better. As such, the misguided decision by the Trump Administration to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement spurred my resolve to act and show that Erie County will lead the way when others won’t,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I am proud to report, as a government, Erie County is already meeting the goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emission consumption by 26% compared to the baseline year of 2005. While we are meeting the Paris standard, we will not rest on our laurels. I have directed our staff to find other ways to further reduce our greenhouse gas emission consumption.  I know we can do better. We will lead by example, especially when others, such as the federal government, won’t.”

Commissioner of Public Works Bill Geary said, “We’ve seen energy expenditures and our emissions in county buildings steadily decreasing for several years, and we will continue to pursue and improve energy efficient practices and procedures in county facilities and the county fleet.  Working on internal procedures, however, can only take us to a certain point and we look forward to working with community partners to create a cleaner, healthier community long-term.”

The report outlines a wide variety of projects and recommendations for the County to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals, which currently are focused primarily on internal operations. However, Erie County’s operations amount to only 0.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions across the county. With that in mind, the report also describes a number of policies, partnerships, and strategies to mitigate climate change at the community level. These initiatives will position the county as a leader and partner on this critical issue.

The Environmental Management Council is an advisory board to Erie County that includes representatives from local town and village government as well as environmental experts. “Climate change is a critical challenge of our time – one of truly global proportion and the Council supports taking strong action to address Climate Change. The impacts are broad and they require countywide leadership,” said Council Chair Anne Bergantz. “This report sets forth aggressive goals to mitigate climate change impacts, with a realistic blueprint of actions to meet these goals that includes transparent and ongoing climate impact reporting, so that the community can assess progress.”

Initiatives to help make renewable energy available to the broader community, as well as addressing energy insecurity for low-income residents, are included in the report.

For more information: 

On the Erie County Commits to Paris report, click here

On the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/

On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit http://www2.erie.gov/dpw/

On the Environmental Management Council, click here