ECAC Readies Climate Action And Resiliency Plan



The Energy Climate Action Committee (ECAC) convened Wednesday, March 24 to finalize comments on their Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CAARP) before submission for final edits. Conversation centered around general editing proposals, including a section referred to as “roadmap to 2025”. 

The roadmap includes sections on carbon reduction goals and resiliency. Some concern was expressed about the lack of precise greenhouse gas reduction values. The committee discussed potential ways to legitimize carbon reduction measurements, including gathering information on the colleges and their role in Amherst’s carbon footprint. 

“The roadmap includes the specific actions on climate reduction, and then specific governance, communication and implementation actions. We need to support those goals,” said ECAC chair Laura Drauker. “So if we think that one of those implementation actions is data collection, I think that should be listed.” 

Member Jesse Selman addressed the need for carbon sequestration data moving forward, which may raise technical challenges. “There’s controversy around [sequestration data] because various megacorporations are putting some of their land holdings into conservation easements or trusts and then claiming fast carbon credits for it,” said member Steve Roof. “These lands in many cases weren’t threatened to begin with, and the estimates of carbon sequestration are just all over the map because there’s no evidence for doing that sort of thing.”

Selman also expressed interest in a carbon education outreach program. “It might be fun for us, or fruitful and result in actual reductions, to do education outreach on carbon literacy,” he said. “We’re all still speaking different languages and using all kinds of science that doesn’t resonate with people.” 

Some ECAC members plan to attend an upcoming Amherst Affordable Housing Advocacy Coalition meeting on May 25, centered around climate advocacy. Drauker suggested the meeting may be an appropriate setting for climate action plan outreach. 

Stephanie Ciccarello, Amherst’s sustainability coordinator, recently submitted an application for an electric vehicle (EV) dual head fast charge unit in downtown Amherst. The charging station would be one of just two others of its kind in the area. Currently there is one at UMass and one in Hadley. A recent Massachusetts bill recently passed requiring Eversource Energy to develop a rate structure to avoid electricity bill spikes from EV charging. The rate structure will then be approved by the Department of Public Utilities. High use of fast charge units can spike electricity use at a given location, such as an attached building.  

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