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A climate-change leader

Brattleboro not only can provide a model for municipal response to climate change, it already has

Paul Cameron is co-founder and executive director of Brattleboro Climate Protection and serves as the town of Brattleboro’s energy coordinator.


RE: “” [, Nov. 30]:

In the July 22 Commons, Tim Stevenson wrote a Viewpoint piece, “Brattleboro can provide leadership on climate change.” In fact, the town has been a leader on climate change for many years, and it continues to be a model for other cities and towns.

In 2002, the town joined the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and established a climate and energy program — Brattleboro Climate Protection (BCP) — which completed a greenhouse gas inventory and developed a community Climate Action Plan.

Over the ensuing 13 years, the town has worked with BCP to implement the plan, monitor emissions and energy use, and engage the public on climate and energy issues. In addition, Town Meeting has allocated up to $10,000 annually to support such efforts.

In 2009, the Selectboard established a volunteer Town Energy Committee, which has worked effectively to reduce energy consumption and costs in town facilities, promote renewable energy, and develop sustainable transportation solutions.

* * *

Here are a few highlights of the work of the town, Brattleboro Climate Protection, and the Town Energy Committee:

• Achieved initial emission reduction goals of 10 percent community-wide and 20 percent in town facilities.

• Developed a strong energy chapter in the 2013 Town Plan that sets a goal: to reduce carbon emissions in Brattleboro to 30 percent below 2010 levels by 2030.

• Performed an energy-efficiency project in town buildings that has reduced energy use by 12 percent and is saving more than $150,000 annually — and will complete a second project over the coming year to achieve further savings, using a newly established Town Energy Efficiency Fund.

• Completed a lighting retrofit project of town streetlights that is saving more than $80,000 annually.

• Established a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) district to give residents access to low-interest loans for home energy projects.

• Advocated for the town’s initial purchase of solar net-metering credits, with the eventual goal of offsetting 100 percent of the town’s electricity with locally produced solar power.

• Established an electric vehicle charging station in the Brattleboro Transportation Center.

• Launched a Smart Commute program to encourage alternative commuting among employees of the town’s largest businesses.

• Organized numerous workshops on renewable energy technologies for homeowners, businesses, and landlords, and launched Brattleboro Solar Summer, a campaign to encourage town residents and businesses to go solar.

* * *

Brattleboro is not alone. Towns and cities throughout New England and the nation are waking up to the reality of climate change and are taking action. In Vermont, more than 100 active energy committees are doing just that.

The untold story is that over the past decade, the real action on climate change has come from local governments that take climate change seriously and are developing workable solutions.

Our very active and effective Town Energy Committee needs new members, as several dedicated members have stepped down due to term limits. If a Brattleboro resident wants to make a difference on climate and energy issues, there is no better place to start.

Much of this grassroots work is not glamorous or sexy — it doesn’t grab attention in the way that a climate march or provocative rhetoric does. But it is essential if we are to have a chance to make a difference on the climate crisis.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #316 (Wednesday, July 29, 2015). This story appeared on page B1.

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