Croton Tackles Carbon
By Liam Robb O’Hagan
The residents of Croton-on-Hudson are organizing to define and achieve the carbon reductions required to meet the goal of capping climate change at a level of 1.5°C temperature rise. Key to this effort is the development of a Carbon Tracker to help residents measure their progress.
The Croton100 initiative was launched before an audience of over 200 residents on Saturday, February 29th. The goal is to make Croton carbon emission free--zero emissions by 2040. A 100% reduction can be achieved through five percent cuts in fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions annually.
In his keynote address, local renewable energy entrepreneur Chandu Visweswariah outlined the challenge, presented solutions and called all the residents to take action.
He compared the risks associated with increasing global temperatures to a roulette wheel, vividly demonstrating risks of a catastrophic loss at a 2°C increase that are much greater than at 1.5°C with a colorful probability sphere.
Visweswariah then called on the residents to look at the ways they can reduce their carbon footprints. This will be hard and require mind shifts that are rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented.
He discussed how residents can make reductions by focusing on the energy intensive items like transport, heating and electricity as well as day-to-day goals in the areas of food, waste and goods and services. For each category he outlined tangible steps to achieve the goals: Replacing your SUV with a smaller sedan or plug-in hybrid and eventually an electric vehicle, or installing a heat pump when your furnace needs replacing. Other important steps include eating less red meat and buying less stuff. He emphasized these changes will improve your health and save you money in the long term.
Visweswariah introduced the Carbon Tracker app that Croton100 has developed with the help of local tech guru Matthew Rubenstein, so people can measure and quantify their carbon reductions. The theory is you can’t change what you can’t see and giving ordinary people a way to measure their progress is necessary to get them to decarbonize.
A powerful theme in his presentation was an emphasis on personal responsibility. Government has a role, but the message was that the people pull the politicians and there are changes we have to make for which we don’t have to rely on anyone else.
Afterward, Emmy Award-winning local actress and event MC Jennifer Jiles called 11 local residents to the stage to celebrate the steps they had taken to reduce their carbon footprints and to introduce the Decarbonizer Bunny, the movement’s mascot.
There were addresses from Croton-on-Hudson Mayor Brian Pugh, who discussed the impact of zoning laws on carbon budgets; Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who outlined the steps the county has taken to support non-carbon infrastructure but repeatedly acknowledged that these were not enough; and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, who discussed a number of initiatives at the state level.
Donovan Gordon from NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, discussed the steps the state is taking to achieve its decarbonization goals and how they can support the efforts of individual citizens.
Attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose to decarbonize their lives with the help of awareness, knowledge and a carbon tracking app from Croton100, all of which are available from the website croton100.org.
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