New data shows Charlottesville’s progress on carbon neutrality goal

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 10:43 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For the past decade, Charlottesville has been taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city. With a goal of eventually becoming carbon neutral, new data shows just how Charlottesville is faring in those efforts.

The results are in, and the city is on the right track. The goal was to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and that’s on pace to happen. However, more work needs to be done to ensure that the mark is met.

“We have cleaner electricity in our community, which accounts for the vast majority of those reductions,” said Susan Kruse, the executive director of the Community Climate Collaborative.

Kruse said the cleaner electricity can include solar panels, but also more energy-efficient appliances inside homes.

The latest published data from the city is from 2019 and provides the most up-to-date look at carbon emissions in Charlottesville. Overall, greenhouse gas emissions are down 30% from 2011 although energy use is up.

“Even though as a community we were doing more, we were using more energy, the amount of carbon impact we had was going down because of that switch in fuel source,” said Susan Elliott, Charlottesville’s climate protection program manager.

Commercial and residential energy still accounts for the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Kruse says that means more needs to be done to ensure emissions continue their downward trend.

“The largest amounts of energy we use is in the heating and the cooling of our home, which makes energy efficiency programs super important,” Kruse said. “There’s definitely not enough funding in the community and not enough energy efficiency work being done.”

The data also shows a virtually non-existent drop in emissions from vehicles. From 2016 to 2017, it has seen just about a 1.5% decrease.

“If we can transfer off the things that are fossil fuels and transfer to things that are lower carbon or fully renewable sources, that’s going to help us immensely in terms of reaching carbon neutrality,” Elliott said.

Kruse added: “The more we can get people onto buses, expand our bus and transit opportunities in our community, that is very important. And as we make those buses cleaner, then that will reduce the impact even more.”

As far as what can be done on an individual level, LEAP, Dominion Energy, and the City of Charlottesville offer energy-efficient products and services. According to C3, the qualifying income level for a household of four is up to $75,100. If that family includes at least one member who is at least 60 years old, that number is $112,680.

More information on the services from C3 can be found here.

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