Letter to the editor: No dispute on climate policy

As the primary author of the Climate Economy Action Center’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Addison County, 2017 and 2020, and one of the authors of CEAC’s Climate Action Plan, I am writing to react to Mr. Chris Olson’s letter to the editor published July 27. Mostly, I am in violent agreement with him.

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory, accessible at ceacac.org/ghg-emissions-data, is organized into three general categories: Transportation, Building Heat and Agriculture. Because Addison County is such a strong farming county, agriculture was the leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020, accounting for just over 250,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalents per year. Transportation accounted for 150,000 tons, and building heat and electricity for about 235,000 tons.

We did not attempt to carry out a thorough Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry analysis for our county, though we did estimate increases in soil carbon attributable to selected farming practices. Thus we reported no values for greenhouse gas releases attributable to forests, or for forest sequestration of same. We did explore possible greenhouse gas effects of burning wood for building heat. Even in the worst case scenario, this source of GHG is quite small compared to vehicles, agriculture or burning fossil fuels for heat.

In the Climate Action Plan, accessible at ceacac.org/climate-action-plan-resources, we grouped our recommended actions under three headings: Buildings and Energy, Transportation and Equipment, and Agriculture and Forestry.

Our recommended strategies related to Forestry are:

Strategy AF 6: Increase county-wide carbon sequestration on urban, forest and agriculture lands by 10% by 2030 compared to 2017.

Strategy AF 7: Maintain county-wide carbon stocks in natural landscapes by maintaining mature land types (i.e., keep forests as forests, wetlands as wetlands, etc.) to minimize the loss of valuable carbon stores already existing in Addison County.

Strategy AF 8: Decrease the “micro heat island” effect in urban areas by increasing tree canopy cover, incentivizing green roofs, increasing rooftop reflectivity, decreasing pavement surface area.

I think we are actually in pretty good alignment with where Mr. Olson would like to see us.

Richard S. Hopkins, Middlebury

Editor’s note: This letter ran in the Aug. 3, 2023, print edition, but regrettably was not published online. So we are publishing it here now.

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