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Albemarle adopts its first Climate Action Plan
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Albemarle adopts its first Climate Action Plan

Albemarle County logo generic seal

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday adopted the county’s first Climate Action Plan.

The plan represents the completion of the first phase of climate action for Albemarle, and is the first step in a multi-phase, multi-year effort to reduce the county’s contributions to global climate change.

More than 31 strategies and 135 actions are included in the document, which are grouped into five sectors: transportation and land use, buildings, renewable energy sourcing, sustainable materials management and landscape, resources and agriculture.

Now, the county will move into the next phase, to focus on implementing actions from the plan.

Greg Harper, the county’s chief of environmental services, said the document echoes many of the same values and broad aspirations identified by other county regional plans, including the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

“These other plans should and do overlap with the Climate Action Plan in countless ways,” he said. “Continued work to implement components of the other plans will in many cases contribute towards climate mitigation. Conversely, the implementation of the actions in this plan will push the county towards reaching the other plans’ goals.”

Last year, the board adopted goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and to be “net zero” community-wide by 2050

The second phase will include the completion of an up-to-date greenhouse gas inventory and an assessment of community resilience to climate change.

Harper said the county has started the inventory and expects to finish it before the end of the calendar year.

He said the second phase will include a more complete evaluation of every strategy and action to determine which ones are most cost effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 30 of the action items are listed as “immediately actionable,” including improving the quality of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the development areas, developing regulatory processes that would incentivize greater housing density and connectivity and to study the feasibility of curbside recycling by the county.

Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she doesn’t want the county to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“I think it’s really important that we do move on as many of these as we can, and not delay where delay is not necessary,” she said. “We spent a long time with community engagement, and I think we at least have the direction you need to be going in.”

Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said she worried that solid waste seems to be set aside in the plan, and there needs to be more included in the next phase.

“If there is a way to focus on very specifically cutting the use of single-use plastics and not purchasing things that are going to create pollution, whether they’re plastics, or any other kinds of things for convenience, or even for capital projects, that we are using the disposable elements of these projects and their impact into the far future as a decision point about what we’re going to buy for our county, for our capital projects, for example,” she said.

During public comment, multiple people spoke in favor of the board adopting the plan.

Susan Kruse, executive director of the Community Climate Collaborative, said there is much more work to do and it’s time to get specific.

“The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we move Albemarle County to the next stage, updating the greenhouse gas inventory for Albemarle County, and using that information to set specific, measurable, ambitious and timely targets for each sector of the Climate Action Plan,” she said.

Allison Wrabel is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7261, or @craftypanda on Twitter.

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