By Jenevra Wetmore
In 2020, Woodstock’s Select Board and Village Trustees passed a Climate Emergency and Action Resolution, with the goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This Resolution is one of many energy and climate goals that the Town and Village have committed to, including Woodstock’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, the Sierra Club Ready for 100 Pledge, and the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. As a community, however, the only way we are going to meet our goals and make meaningful, substantive and long-lasting reductions in carbon emissions is to adopt a climate action plan.
Towards this end our Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC), Geoff Martin, and the IREC Steering Committee drafted the first regional Climate Action Plan for the IREC towns of Woodstock, Norwich, Strafford, Sharon, Thetford and Bradford this spring. Sustainable Woodstock advocated for the position of Regional Energy Coordinator when it was initially created by a town vote in 2019, and we have remained part of the IREC group since then. The IREC Committee focuses on energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reduction and other programs that help to meet Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan goals. The plan is intended to serve as an action plan for each town’s respective Energy Committee.
Climate Action Plans are roadmaps outlining steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In Woodstock, the plan will help to create an action plan for Woodstock’s Energy and Transportation Action Committee. As drafted, the IREC CAP does not prioritize actions, but rather lists them all as options for energy committees to choose from when formulating their annual plans. In most cases, each town’s energy committee will work on their own priorities, with the hope that all IREC towns will learn from the experiences of other energy committees at annual meetings. Yet there are certain actions that require, or at least benefit substantially from, working together at the regional level. The First Annual IREC Climate Action Plan Meeting took place on May 26, 2022, and was an opportunity for energy committees to identify a few challenges and impactful actions for collaboration among the IREC towns over the coming year.
The IREC group voted and decided on two priority actions to focus on this year. The first of these is focused on consumer education, and will create green guidelines for residents and businesses, and host educational showcases on green technology and choices that individuals can make. The second action that towns will collaborate on is increasing compliance with Residential Building Energy Standards (RBES). RBES apply to all new construction in Vermont and provide a minimum standard of energy efficiency. While meeting RBES is a requirement , many are unaware it exists, and it is not enforced. Our towns will collaborate to increase awareness of and compliance with RBES, making homes more energy efficient. These above actions are the two actions that the group decided to collaborate on this year, but Sustainable Woodstock’s Energy and Transportation Group is not limited to just these two actions, and will continue to work on other climate actions in Woodstock.
The plan itself is divided into six sections: transportation, stationary (buildings), electricity, waste, forest/agriculture/land use, and cross-sectoral. These sections are the highest-level categorization of community-wide greenhouse gas emission sources, distinct from one another, that make up the town’s emissions. The plan then proposes pathways to reduce emissions with measurable benchmarks, and specific actions for towns to take. These actions help towns take steps necessary to reach our climate goals–an imperative of increasing importance as global temperatures continue to rise. Vital projects such as expanding public transportation, increasing community solar arrays, expanding public education efforts, and making homes more energy efficient are just some of the actions captured in this plan. Ultimately meaningful progress is only possible when all members of the community get involved, and we hope that you will join us in moving from plan to action.
What can you do?
- •On Thursday July 21st, 5:30-6:30 PM Sustainable Woodstock will host a virtual presentation on new regional Climate Action Plan. The presentation will be hosted by the Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator Geoff Martin and will be a chance for residents to learn about the regional Climate Action Plan developed in collaboration with Woodstock, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, Norwich, and Bradford. Come learn why the plan was developed, what is in the plan, and how you can help your town achieve its energy goals!
- • Attend Sustainable Woodstock’s Energy and Transportation (SWEAT) group meetings to pursue local climate action. The next meeting will be held 6pm on Tuesday, August 2nd via Zoom.