Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Keene Is Keen on Cutting Carbon

A number of American cities have decided not to wait for the federal government to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are taking action on their own. One city that seems to be doing more than most is Keene, New Hampshire. In 2000 the City of Keene joined the worldwide Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. Joining the campaign meant that Keene had to analyze its emission of greenhouse gases for the year 1995 and predict what the emissions would be in the target year of 2015 if no actions were taken to reduce emissions. It also meant that the city had to set a greenhouse gas emission reduction target and devise a plan to meet the target and then implement the plan.

The city determined that in 1995, counting only carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuel and methane from decay of landfill waste, that it was responsible for about 204,529 tons of carbon dioxide. This worked out to 9.02 tons per person. It then determined that if no action was taken that in 2015 there would be 257,716 tons of carbon dioxide emitted which came out to 10.3 tons per person. The city set their target goal as a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide from levels in 1995 which was calculated to be 184,076 tons. This meant that to go from the predicted level in 2015 to 10% below the level in 1995 they had to reduce 70,860 tons of carbon dioxide.

The city then determined measures that had already been begun which could reduce greenhouse gases and what new measures would be needed by both the municipal government and the community to reach their target. In addition, they figured out how many years it would take to get a full return on the investments and what the annual cost savings would be for each measure taken.

According to the executive summary of the plan successfully implementing the plan would not be easy:

“Achieving a 10% reduction below 1995 levels will be challenging. It will take each new and existing measure to reach it. It will take the commitment of the City government to provide adequate funding to implement the actions outlined here. It will take the commitment of businesses, small and large, to pay attention to energy consumption and waste generation, and strive to reduce it. It will take the commitment of each individual citizen to make the choices to drive less, conserve energy, produce less garbage, and recycle more. No one entity has the responsibility or the ability to do it alone.”

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