to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Meeting Highlights: 2020

May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020

May 2020

Growing Our Climate Resilience at EcoVillage – Nathan Scott

Nathan is the executive director of Learn@EcoVillage. He discussed the ecovillage movement’s recent work on promoting community-based resilience at both the global and local levels.

  • What does climate resilience, and more generally, community-based resilience mean in an intentional community like EVI?
  • Held a workshop in March on “Communities for the Future: Our Response to the Climate Emergency” – contextualized EVI in global ecovillage movement
  • Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) based at Findhorn in Scotland – founded in 1995 to connect ecovillages around world – about 10,000 communities
  • Core practices include:
    • Rooted in local participatory process
    • Integrate social, cultural, economic, and ecological dimensions in approach to sustainability and regeneration
    • Actively restore and regenerate their social and natural environments
  • EVI largest ecovillage in U.S.
  • March workshop explored set of design principles for resilience – for example:
    • Nurture diversity and cohesion in thriving communities
    • Enrich life with art and celebration
    • Commit to responsible production, consumption, and trade
    • Grow seeds, food, and soil through regenerative agriculture
  • Organized into resilience action groups:
    • Sustainable food systems
    • Land connection and use
    • Energy use
    • Transportation
    • Arts and celebration
    • Reduced consumption
    • Community care and connection
    • Social and economic justice
  • Talked about climate resiliency in terms of a combination of adaptation and mitigation strategies – how can we build systems and processes that support both?
  • In follow-up, communitywide meeting on Zoom, examined each of these in a local context and came up with ideas for how to promote them – about 56 households took part in this meeting
  • For example, discussed how more people could grow food locally and buy more CSA shares as part of creating more sustainable food system – other ideas included reducing food waste, onsite farmers market, etc.
  • For land connection and use, talked about how to enrich soil with biochar, plant more trees and shrubs, eliminate invasive species, etc.
  • For energy use, explored how they could expand use of renewable energy and ground source heat pumps, and put local microgrid in place
  • In terms of transportation they examined carsharing, use of EVs (more than 40 EV charging stations at EVI), and using bikes more frequently
  • Reduced consumption discussion focused on decreased use of plastics, buying more local, sharing more stuff, and expanding food buying clubs, among other ideas
  • Conversation about community care and connection came out of Covid-19 pandemic – how do we care for each other and provide support for vulnerable neighbors
  • Final area of discussion: how do we promote greater social and economic justice? Need to address economic differences among residents, increase access for racially diverse groups, and explore more ways of making a living or supplementing an income on site at EVI
  • Big part of creating social change is getting buy-in – 8 actions groups are coordinated by central resilience task force
  • Like EVI Covid-19 Health Task Force, it will be an advising and coordinating body, not policy making one
  • Consists of representative from each action group and others
  • Function is to:
    • Support work of action groups
    • Coordinate communication among groups
    • Share out success of groups
    • Recommend areas for community-wide engagement
  • Next step is for people to choose an action group and for action groups to being meeting
  • Leaders will call first meeting, groups will identify subgroups, and each subgroup will develop SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time based
  • SMARTIES goals expand to also examine how goals can be made more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable – developed by Elan Shapiro
  • Goal is for it to be an ongoing process of continual examination and improvement – also looking to become more outward facing and engaged with larger community


Community Choice Aggregation: Path to Energy Independence – Irene Weiser

Irene is coordinator of Fossil Free Tompkins and member of the Caroline Town Council. Irene outlined the goals of community choice aggregation, an issue that the Tompkins County Council of Governments recently decided to make a priority, and explored the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

  • What is CCA? Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), at its most basic level, is a bulk-buying club for energy supply (electric and/or gas).
  • Electricity bills show two categories:
    • Energy Delivery
    • Energy Supply
  • In NYS, our electric utilities are decoupled from energy production -- they only deliver electricity
  • Consumers can choose where they buy their electricity supply
  • About 20% choose Energy Service Company (ESCO) and/or solar farm
  • Energy Delivery
    • We pay NYSEG for energy delivery services (wires, pipelines)
    • NYSEG rate increases are for O&M, improvements to their delivery infrastructure.
    • NYSEG delivery rate increases will continue under CCA.
  • Energy Supply
    • NYSEG buys energy supply (electricity, gas) on the wholesale market and delivers it to us. Supply cost is pass-thru (e.g. NYSEG makes no profit on the supply)
    • Wholesale prices vary by time of day and time of year (supply, demand)
  • Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), at its most basic level, is a bulk-buying club for energy supply (electric +/-gas)
    • It can also include other energy services and programs
  • Public Service Commission (14-M-0224, order April 2016)
    • Municipality can pass local law to purchase energy supply on behalf of residents and small commercial accounts
    • Must be done at the lowest level - village, city, town
    • Individuals may opt out of CCA
  • CCAs currently authorized and operating in CA, IL, OH,, NJ, MA, and NY
  • Operating CCAs in NYS
    • 61 municipalities w/ active CCAs
    • About 170,000 residential and small commercial electricity accounts
    • 38 municipalities are currently receiving 100% renewable energy as default supply
  • Current CCA Administrators in NYS
    • Good Energy
    • Joule Assets
    • Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance
    • (MEGA)
    • Westchester Power
  • CCAs in NYS (July 2019)
  • Administrator

    # Members


    # Municipalities*


    # 100% Green Municipalities

    Westchester Power (est. 2016)

    ~ 91,000



    MEGA (est. 2019)

    ~ 37,000



    Joule Assets (est. 2019)

    ~ 28,000



    Good Energy (est. 2019)

    ~ 7,100



    *80 municipalities are fully authorized for CCA, 61 are receiving CCA supply at this time. Others are either on hold pending better pricing, or they have decided not to move forward with CCA at this time.

  • The Purpose of CCA (according to NYSERDA)
    • CCA allows local elected officials to choose source of energy supply for their community.
    • Enter into a bulk purchasing arrangement and competitively procure energy supplies with the help of a CCA Administrator.
    • The purpose is to build market clout and negotiate better prices and terms on energy supply and other clean energy products and services.
  • CCA’s Potential
    • Predictable energy supply costs via Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
    • Purchase 100% renewable energy supply
    • Enhance community energy literacy
    • Develop local or regional renewable energy resources
    • Local/regional job creation
    • Develop/support local energy services; efficiency, heat pumps, EV, storage
    • Develop/support programs for low-income residents
    • Keep our energy investments local, strengthen local economy
  • Energy Math and CCA potential
    • Average electricity use/home = 700 kWh/month
    • # homes in Tompkins County = 40,000
    • Average cost/kWh = $0.038
    • 700 x 12 x 40,000 x $0.038 = $12,768,000/yr leaves Tompkins County to pay for electric supply
    • What if, instead, we own, build and generate our own power? And reduce our demand? And sell our excess back to the grid? And pay for energy efficiency and heat pumps with the money we save?
    • And support our low income residents? And create community jobs? And….
  • Solar Farms = economic leakage
  • “Community” solar farms, offer ~ 10% supply discount vs. NYSEG
    • Owned by outside companies
    • Backed by outside investors (tax incentives)
    • Designed by outside developers
    • +/- installed by outside company
    • Pay rent to landowner
    • Pay taxes or PILOT
    • Pay marketing company to enroll members
    • Admin costs to send billing to utility
  • IMAGINE what our energy costs would be if we could reduce or eliminate these points of economic leakage? And what we could do with the savings!
  • CCA                                          CCA 1.0                                   CCA 2.0                                     CCA 3.0


    Save money by RFP

    to procure lower cost

    per kWh, green energy (RECs) @ sl.

    higher cost

    Regional green energy

    procurement, goal = cost

    less or equal to utility supply, cheaper (brown) energy option, +/- local energy programs

    Save money by reducing energy demand. Social and energy equity at core. Locally built, owned, managed green energy & storage, EV, heat pumps, local jobs; keep $$ in the community.

    Energy Source

    Brown +/- Green

    energy option (RECs)


    Green (RECs), + brown. RFP may specify NYS or regional RECs

    Locally owned and sited green energy; regional, state RECs secondary

    Aggregate Sixe

    150,000 households


    75,000+ households

    20,000-50,000 households

    Local Control

    None (after contract)

    Some, optional

    High, customized, flexible; coop model, self-determination


    Consultant and local

    Consultant and local

    Local coop, + muni +/- advisors

    Level of Effort

    Low, short term

    Low to medium, ongoing?





    New model. Community creativity and commitment are key.

  • CCA Considerations:
  • CCA may exceed NYSEG supply costs
    • Other ways to reduce costs efficiency, demand response
  • Customer concerns - moving, opt-in or out, billing questions, etc.
    • Local management, ongoing outreach and communication
  • Municipal effort
    • Understanding ahead of time what is expected from the local government
  • CCA Workgroup 2017 - Barriers
    • No enrollment of low income residents into Community Solar Farms
    • Separate bills for supply (CCA) and delivery (NYSEG)
    • NYSEG would not bill for Gross Receipts Tax for CCA (cities, villages)
    • No bulk enrollment of CCA members into Community Solar Farm, separate billing.
    • Renewable development slow because of NYS policy (VDER)
    • Low supply costs in our region = questionable savings, higher risk
    • Only 1 active CCA – still a lot of unknowns on effectiveness and potential
    • Limited choice of consultants; lack of expertise w/in community to do it ourselves.
    • Consultant admin fees left little for community-based program development.
    • Lack of transparency w/one consultant; conservative approach w/the other.
    • Consultants want large aggregates; we want more local control, custom programs
    • Electricity supply cost focus, not efficiency, demand response, storage, heat pumps.
    • Heavy lift to enroll 17 municipalities vs. 1 County.
  • What’s changed?
    • No enrollment of low income in Community Solar Farms -- Gone
    • Separate bills for supply (CCA) and delivery (NYSEG) -- Gone
    • NYSEG would not bill for Gross Receipts Tax for CCA (cities, villages) -- Gone
    • No bulk enrollment of CCA members into Community Solar Farm, separate billing.
    • Renewable development slow because of NYS policy (VDER) -- New policies ongoing
    • Low supply costs in our region = questionable savings, higher risk
    • Several active CCAsNeed to evaluate programs
    • 1 new consultant; lack of expertise w/in community to do it ourselves. New consultant = Local Power, started CCA, developed vision for 3.0
    • Consultant admin fees left little for community based program development.
    • Lack of transparency w/one consultant; conservative approach by other. Local Power transparent, robust community engagement approach, prioritizes social and energy equity.
    • Consultants want large aggregates; we wanted more local control, custom programs. 3.0 geared toward local control.

    • Electricity focus, not efficiency, demand response, storage, heat pumps. 0 broader focus
    • Heavy lift to enroll 17 municipalities vs. 1 County. Can we change this in our application to PSC? Do we want to vs. coalition of the willing?
    • CCA 3.0 new model, untested, research, broad community engagement. 2.0 → 3.0?
  • Steps to start CCA:
    • Information gathering
    • Set preliminary goals
    • Feasibility - financial, policy, etc.
    • Re-evaluate goals
    • Select administrator (RFP optional *)
      • External, internal, both
    • Develop implementation plan *
      • Programmatic, budget
      • Public outreach
      • Data management
    • Pass Local Law *
    • Submit plan to PSC for approval
    • Aggregate w/other municipalities *
    • Issue RFP for energy supply, other services
      • Review, revise if needed
    • Hire local coordinator
    • Launch
    • (* templates exist for these)
  • CCA vs. Municipal Utility
  • CCA
    • Procure +/- own energy supply
    • +/- Provide energy related services
    • Local Law by lowest level of Municipality
  • Municipal Utility
    • Procure +/- own energy supply
    • +/- Provide energy related services
    • County Local Law, ballot initiative, and authorized by state legislature
    • +/- Own/maintain energy delivery (wires, substations, transformers)
  • Next Steps
    • Interested in ongoing effort? Contact me!
    • irene32340@gmail.com 607.539.6856
  • TCCOG Energy Committee (Rod Howe)
  • Research existing CCA programs - structures, contracts, prices
    • Talk with administrators
    • Talk with CCA communities
  • Identify our local goals (may differ by municipality)
  • CCA structure to meet our goals
  • Start talking in your local government about what CCA is, and what you want it to be for your community.

Rollback of EPA Regulations – Rebecca Newberry

Rebecca is the executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western NY. She discussed the recent rollback of EPA air, water, and hazardous waste regulations by the Trump Administration and her organization’s efforts to push back on these actions.

  • We are a membership-based organization founded by people who were really sick because of where they lived
  • One of most industrialized areas of NY – a lot of cancer, respiratory illnesses, and rare childhood diseases
  • Trump administration issued memo a few weeks ago that suspended any enforcement action, including fines, against corporations that violated any federal law regarding air, water, and hazardous waste – cited coronavirus pandemic as reason for this move
  • Also affected kinds of reporting they do – made it very difficult for organizations like the Clean Air Coalition to advocate for its members
  • Enforcement waiver increases health risks for people who live near these industries
  • We’re asking the NYS attorney general to file a law suit against Trump administration – last week Clean Air Coalition released letter from 50 state organizations calling on the AG to launch lawsuit
  • AG released letter that same day that constituted fairly weak response with attorney generals from several other states
  • Big Greens like NRDC have filed law suit, but there needs to be a public law suit because that’s the only thing that will lead to this waiver being revoked
  • Shaming isn’t enough – these corporations don’t care – need more robust action against Trump administration
  • People can write emails to NY attorney general’s letter – also can work with local press to publish story or opinion piece
  • In addition, Rebecca is looking for environmental organization contacts in other states
  • Looking at ways to get involved in PA voter turnout efforts because of its swing state status
  • Waiver doesn’t have an end date so it could be in place for a long time
  • NY attorney general office is working on calculating health consequences of this new policy


Community Resilience in the Time of Coronavirus – Julianna Violetto

Jules is a graduating senior in Environmental Studies at Ithaca College and is doing an internship with TCCPI this spring on climate resilience. She has been studying how communities are increasing their resilience during the current pandemic and the lessons we can draw on for becoming more climate resilient.

  • Research and internship under Peter this semester – key terms for today’s discussion:
    • Mitigation: Slowing the rate of global warming or making something less severe, dangerous, painful, or damaging
    • Adaptation: Taking steps to live with the effects of Climate Change or the act of changing something to make it suitable for the new purpose or situation
    • Resiliency: The capacity of a community or society to adapt when exposed to a hazard – can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary
    • These strategies have all been vital in dealing with both climate change and COVID-19
  • The reaction to COVID-19 exposed some harsh truths
    • Trump’s reaction: didn’t take it very seriously early on, downplayed its potential impact – similar to his dismissive attitude towards global warming
    • Our obsession with productivity and competition – reluctance to have people stay home cost lives
    • Our fragile economic system and supply chain – failure of risk management principles
  • Potential Positives:
    • People adjusted very quickly to the stay-at-home order – suggests that people can adapt to dramatic and sudden change – why not do so to prevent runaway climate change?
    • Political leaders DO have the ability to make rapid change happen – disruption of ordinary business is possible
  • People may take science more seriously – scientists in news much more frequently than before pandemic as public pays close attention to possible treatments and vaccines for COVID-19
  • Resiliency in time of COVID-19 important development
  • We are all connected by a common threat and solution - “There has never been a better argument for local resilience than the Coronavirus.”
    • Supporting local business
    • Providing resources for those in need – emergence of mutual aid organizations across country – use of social media for self-organizing
    • States collaborating along regional lines
  • Examples of Resilience in Ithaca
    • Mask making run by Cornell and Cayuga Medical Center
    • Ithaca Tip Jar - helping bartenders, restaurant workers, hospitality workers in the community
    • Food Bank and Greater Ithaca Activities Center aiming to address the newly-developing deficit for 800 households who utilize food pantries
    • Loaves & Fishes providing food for those in the Jungle
  • Collaboration/co-creation: people are engaged and communicating with each other to meet the needs of those in their community
  • Important lessons for climate resiliency can be drawn from the COVID-19 experience
  • Both COVID-19 and Climate Change demand early aggressive action to minimize loss
  • Vulnerable populations should be prioritized – they feel the worst impacts – we need to hear their voices
  • Green New Deal – emphasis on facilitating opportunity, job creation, and public health
  • Focus on government spending and policies to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy with emphasis on:
    • reducing emissions
    • ensuring clean air
    • providing good jobs as well as safeguarding economic growth
    • public health
  • Financial institutions need to work collectively to invest in green energy
  • Businesses need to focus on resilience and risk management
  • Need to shift our consumerist and fossil fuel reliant culture
  • Michael Lerner: “Resilience is not something we need to teach people. Resilience flows directly from the deepest human instincts of loving and caring. We instinctively seek to survive ourselves and to help all those we love and care for to survive and flourish. In fact, we often care more about others than we do about our own survival.”
  • We need to rethink our fundamental economic and political assumptions – need to build a world where we can come together

March 2020

Sunrise Ithaca Spring Campaign – Marisa Lansing and Rebecca Evans

Marisa and Rebecca are co-founders of Sunrise Ithaca. Marisa is program assistant at Sustainable Tompkins for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and member of the TCCPI steering committee, and Rebecca is the Campus Sustainability Coordinator at Ithaca College. They shared Sunrise Ithaca’s plans for a spring campaign to focus attention on the climate crisis and build support for the Green New Deal.

  • Want to discuss how Sunrise Ithaca has pivoted to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April – Sunrise registering thousands of people across country to vote
  • Supporting Bernie Sanders as Democratic nominee – also at local level supporting candidates in congressional races, etc.
  • Focusing on Green New Deal going forward in 2020 – national transition:
    • Respond to moment
    • Case for Green New Deal
    • Massive action at termination of social distancing
  • Clear that systems supposed to support us are not working – Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses and failures of system
  • For Phases 1& 2, Sunrise working on reaching new people and bringing them into movement
  • Sunrise School main vehicle for operating online
  • Participating provides youth opportunities to:
    • Build communities
    • Learn about crises
    • Take actions with peers while social distancing
  • Sunrise Ithaca restructuring – forming new teams
  • Political action with 2020 elections
    • Virtual forums and town halls
    • Endorsement process
    • Mail-in voting during Covid-19
  • Communications and outreach – engagement
    • New website
    • Day of Music
    • Art actions
    • Sunrise School
    • Ithaca Green New Deal
  • Focusing on community – looking for ways to get involved in mutual aid activities: making masks, getting meds, shopping for groceries
  • Impact of Covid-19 similar to impact to what impact of climate emergency might be
  • Need for Green New Deal greater now than it has ever been
  • How do we support each other during this difficult time?
  • Where we need help:
    • Recruiting younger demographics and new members
    • Engaging our community in Earth Day 2020 – is there something we can do here that’s fun and creative?
  • Ingrid: We’re trying to figure out how to pivot at PRI – working on providing onlin teaching and learning resources for climate and energy
  • Nick: Stream Common Council meetings on Facebook and Town of Ithaca meetings on Zoom
  • Energy Code Supplement will be going out for public comment again – how can we provide ways for community input?
  • Carol: We’re working on NYSEG rate case using Zoom – people get mikes turned off but then hold up signs – trying to push for less gas infrastructure and turn towards greater electrification
  • Namrate: What would a virtual strike look like?
  • Want young people to get on platforms like Sunrise School and phone banks and increase their participation
  • Guillermo: In terms of action, what are we asking people to do? What are ways young people can act on reducing GHG emissions?
  • Anne: Most powerful think young people can do is to push political leaders to do right thing – what’s necessary to prevent runaway climate change – focus on getting right policies in place
  • Marisa: Getting young people off sidelines and feeling empowered so important
  • Namrate: Sunrise tapping into creative energy of young people to keep pressure on politicians
  • Rebecca: Looking to allies to bring us into discussions and actions not because they want to have faces of young people present
  • Joe: Why hasn’t energy of young people turned into votes, as demonstrated by Sanders campaign?
  • Peter: Important to work on mail-in voting for fall in case there is second wave of pendemic then
  • Fae: We don’t really know what will happen with pandemic in fall
  • Anne: How can we pull rural youth into Sunrise Ithaca? Maybe we should think about reviving local TV station


Ithaca 2030 District Progress Report – Peter Bardaglio and Aurora Namnum

Peter is the executive director of the Ithaca 2030 District, TCCPI’s flagship project, and Aurora is the assistant director. They provided an update on recent developments with the Ithaca 2030 District and walk the group through the 2019 annual progress report released earlier this month

  • Peter reminded group that Ithaca 2030 District now flagship program of TCCPI
  • Why the focus on buildings?
    • 75% of all electricity produced in U.S. used just to operate buildings
    • Building sector responsible for 45% of U.S. CO2 emissions
    • Buildings account for 75% of emissions in City of Ithaca
    • By 2035, 75% of our country’s building stock will either be new or renovated
    • This transformation over the next 15 years historic opportunity for architecture & building community to avoid runaway climate change
  • Why a 2030 District?
    • Establish common targets and metrics
    • Collect, benchmark, and analyze data to track progress
    • Reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions
    • Share best ways to enhance energy & water performance of commercial buildings
    • Enhance overall value and reputation of downtown Ithaca
  • Ithaca 2030 District builds on TCCPI model – provides non-competitive, collaborative environment built on trust and mutual respect
  • Main vehicle for building support in local business community for reducing GHG emissions and increasing energy and water efficiency of their buildings
  • Building owners, community organizations, and professionals come together to share best ways to enhance energy and water performance of commercial and mixed use buildings – collect, benchmark, and analyze data to track progress
  • Key Characteristics of 2030 Districts:
    • Private sector led, public sector supported
    • Property managers, owners, developers
    • Local government and public agencies
    • Business and community stakeholders
    • Voluntary collaboration
    • Common mission and goals
    • Based in market realities
    • Building the business case for sustainability
  • 22 established districts and 502 million sq. ft. committed in the 2030 Districts Network – 10 new districts since Ithaca 2030 District launched in June 2017
  • Current property owners in the Ithaca 2030 District
    • 104 E. State St. (Homegrown Skateshop)
    • Alternatives Federal Credit Union
    • Argos Inn
    • Autumn Leaves
    • Cascadilla Oasis, LLC (Ithaca Connected)
    • City Hall
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension-TC
    • Finger Lakes ReUse Center
    • HOLT Architects
    • Ithaca Bakery
    • Kitchen Theatre
    • New Roots Charter School
    • Petrune
    • Press Bay Alley
    • Printing Press
    • Purity Ice Cream
    • Sciencenter
    • Space@GreenStar
    • Taitem Engineering
    • TC Chamber of Commerce
    • Tompkins County (Human Services Annex)
    • Travis Hyde Properties (Gateway Commons)
  • Advisory board members:
    • Andrew Gil, HOLT Architects
    • Conrad Metcalfe, NYS-BPCA
    • Darby Kiley, TC Planning Dept.
    • Frost Travis, Travis Hyde Properties
    • Guillermo Metz, CCETC
    • Jan Rhodes Norman, Local First Ithaca
    • Lou Vogel, Taitem Engineering
    • Nick Goldsmith, City of Ithaca
  • Financial support provided by Park Foundation and NYSERDA’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program
  • Pro-bono professional hours provided by:
    • Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins County
    • HOLT Architects
    • Taitem Engineering
  • Progress since 2016:
    • Issued market analysis report, district strategy plan, and public outreach strategy
    • Developed financing guide, energy efficiency services guide, and small commercial toolkit
    • Collected monthly utility data for property owners and uploaded it to Portfolio Manager
    • Created of the energy, water, and transportation baselines for the 2030 District
    • Launched our website at 2030districts.org/ithaca
    • Implemented building performance dashboard for each property owner
    • Carried out annual transportation surveys to track commuter carbon emissions
    • Established a real-time energy monitor pilot with four District buildings
    • Conducted workshops on benefits of 2030 District and training sessions on Portfolio Manager
    • Held regular quarterly meetings of District Partners
    • Published quarterly e-newsletter
    • Released first annual District progress report
  • Aurora then walked group through the annual report, beginning with an overview and going through each of the sections
  • She then reviewed the latest numbers tracking our District-level progress.
  • Currently, there are 23 property owners in the District, totaling 26 buildings and about 330,000 square feet of committed space
  • This report numbers cover only the original 15 buildings because those are the ones that we have complete data on from 2019
  • Next year’s report will include all the members who have joined up through this meeting
  • She explained that at the District level we need additional 30% reduction in the energy consumption of the member buildings to meet 2020 targets, an additional 11% reduction to meet the 2020 water targets, and an additional 33% reduction need to meet the 2020 transportation targets

February 2020

2019 Community Achievements – All

TCCPI members are in the process of compiling their annual brief reports on steps they took in 2019 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to clean energy. We took a step back today and looked at the wider achievements of the community last year.

  • Karim Beers: Ithaca Green New Deal was a major step forward
  • Chuck Geisler: The growing importance of environmental justice in the climate movement
  • Joe Wilson: The new Town of Dryden plan, with its focus on climate change and clean energy
  • Guillermo Metz: The broader perspective encouraged by the Green New Deal and, at the state level, passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
  • Peggy Tully: Also thinks the Ithaca Green New Deal is a turning point for the community
  • Rebecca Evans: The emergence of Sunrise Ithaca and its impact on the development of the Ithaca Green New Deal
  • Terry Carroll: The process of Climate Smart Communities certification and the numerous climate actions by local governments it has set in motion
  • Jon Jensen: The establishment of a new, innovative Green Building Policy in the City and Town of Ithaca for new construction
  • Nate Scott: The growing awareness of intersectionality and its impact on the emergence of the climate justice movement
  • Al George: The rise in numbers of young people in the climate movement, including the Sunrise Movement
  • Lisa Marshall: The closing of the Cayuga Power plant and engaging mothers who weren’t necessarily activist and amplifying their voices through Mothers Out Front
  • Peter Bardaglio: The growth and expansion of the Ithaca 2030 District and its contribution to the adoption of benchmarking building performance in the city

The Way Forward – Group Discussion

The meeting turned to a discussion of how we could build on the achievements of 2019 in the coming year.

  • Encouraging that mainstream media is allowing reporters to talk more about climate change and investigate its impact
  • The danger is that people say something needs to be done without realizing what’s actually involved
  • Ithaca Green New Deal and Climate Leadership and Community Act both running into this – clearly, there will be resistance to these measures all along the way
  • Danger of “confirmation bias” – we believe we’re doing something when we’re not
  • How do we talk across the very different belief systems of people who recognize the climate emergency and those who deny it?
  • Tipping point in accomplishing social change is very real – not everybody has to believe in climate change and not everyone has to support action needed to slow climate change down for the movement to succeed
  • Social change happens when you persist, but we have to be ready for opposition and claw back attempts
  • Maybe 2019 was an inflection point, but there will be and already is serious pushback
  • Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better
  • How do we catalyze the kind of dramatic action like what the public fear of coronavirus is setting in motion?
  • System change and mind change has to take place – need to chip away at these foundational issues
  • Rather than optimism or hope what we need is courage – the strength to take action without knowing the outcome
  • We may always lose, but what’s important is that we fight – there is no time now for hope
  • How can we be most effective in fighting climate change? How can we get more people engaged?
  • The people in power need to be challenged in the way that young people are doing
  • The world is going in a clear direction but not helpful to way we’re doomed
  • The more work we put into slowing down and limiting climate destabilization, the less suffering there will be
  • What kind of new society can we build as we fight climate change and fight for a more humane future?
  • Topics to explore this coming year:
    • How do carbon markets work?
    • What role can regenerative agriculture and carbon storage play in heading off runaway climate change?
    • How should a commitment to social equity shape the Green New Deal?
    • What steps can we take to strengthen community resilience in the face of the climate emergency? How do we promote urban-rural interdependence in Tompkins County?
    • What kinds of messages move people to collective action?
    • How are neighboring municipalities outside of the city dealing with climate change and the energy transition?
    • How do we implement community choice aggregation? What are the main barriers and opportunities?
    • What will the rollout of the CLCA look like?

January 2020

Carbon Offsets and Standards – Stefan Jirka

Stefan is a sustainable landscapes manager with Verra, which has developed a leading voluntary program for the certification of GHG emission reduction projects. Stefan has an MS in Environmental Sciences and BS in Biology, both from Cornell University

  • Verra is a standards organization – ANGO based in DC and founded in 2005
  • Focus on GHG emissions and biodiversity standards for voluntary programs
  • Among other efforts, Verra oversees California Offset Project Registry
  • Three key sectors of current carbon markets:
    • Domestic Compliance – national and subnational
    • Voluntary Market – verified carbon standard
    • Multinational Compliance – Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, etc.
  • Carbon market involves trading of carbon credits measured in terms of CO2e emissions
  • Overall, since voluntary carbon markets began to emerge in late 2000s, offset issuances and retirements have increased dramatically
  • In 2017 issuances and retirements reach record highs
  • Issuance is credit that can be traded and retirements are credits that can’t be – credits get retired after set number of years
  • Carbon market represents less than 1% of all human-generated emissions
  • Voluntary carbon markets exist across the world – large majority in Asia (55%)
  • Kinds of projects: renewable energy, waste handling and disposal, mining , manufacturing, fugitive emissions, energy demand, chemical industry
  • Verified Carbon Unit inputs:
    • Real
    • Measurable
    • Permanent
    • Additional
  • VCU Outputs:
  • Independently verified
  • Transparently listed
  • Uniquely numbered
  • Conservatively estimated
  • Verified Carbon Standard components:
    • Methodologies
    • Registry system
    • Independent auditing
  • “Permanence” defined as 100-year period
  • Voluntary Market Standards and Programs include:
    • Verified Carbon Standard
    • Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards
    • Gold Standard
  • Project Development Process Steps:
    • Project description
    • Validation
    • Registration
    • Monitoring report
    • Verification
    • Issuance
  • Methodologies under VCS:
    • Projects must use an approved methodology to quantify GHG emission reductions/removals
    • Methodologies set out detailed procedures for quantifying GHG benefits of a project
  • Key components of methodologies
    • Applicability conditions
    • Project boundary
    • Baseline scenarios
    • Additionality
    • Quantification of emission reductions and removals
    • Monitoring
  • Current and valid version of methodology must always be used


TCCPI Priorities & Goals for 2020 – All

We broke into small groups for this discussion and shared thoughts about what participants would like to see TCCPI focus on in 2019 as far as priorities and goals are concerned..

Group #1

  • TCCPI participants or the steering committee could define key questions for 2020, which we could then explore at monthly meetings
  • What is a key question the TCCPI community wants to answer or finds relevant? How can we turn meetings into an inquiry process that practices collective problem solving?
  • One invited presenter (with relevant subject matter expertise) per meeting would be given a key question ahead of time -- after their presentation, the group would spend 45-60 mins thinking/discussing/generating answers together to that particular question
  • Examples:
    • What would a local carbon offset market look like – how would it work?
    • How do we develop the necessary community resilience to survive the climate crisis?
    • What kinds of messages work to move people to collective action
    • How do we promote urban-rural interdependence?
  • Could take place in small groups like today, or as a plenary, depending on question and # of people present
  • TCCPI website should have some sort of directory of participants that helps us know each other - contact info, areas of work, resources wanted/offered – this could help facilitate more collaboration, especially as new participants join in

Group #2

  • Monthly report on Ithaca Green New Deal progress – how will we reach the Ithaca GND goals?
  • Also presentations on how neighboring municipalities are doing – could promote cross-fertilization
  • For example, Lansing is wrestling with large-scale development projects – how will we support effort to reduce its carbon footprint?
  • What are the external forces for a carbon market here? How do we support local farmers to also engage with these markets as partners?
  • How do we implement community choice aggregation?
  • What about having Cornell and IC report on the progress they are making in achieving their GHG emission reduction targets?
  • What will the regulatory rollout of CLCA look like? How will it impact us? How do we engage this process?
  • Regenerative agriculture and soil carbon farming are also important topics we should explore
  • How should a commitment to equity shape the implementation of the Green New Deal? How do we develop a shared language, commitment, and vision around a narrative of climate justice?

Group #3

  • We should focus on energy leaks from low-income, substandard housing – what building codes would help address this and how do we ensure effective enforcement?
  • Also we should bring students into TCCPI projects and meetings
  • Other issues:
    • Support for city and town in achieving 2030 goals
    • Transportation outside of Tompkins County – how do we promote regional systems and best practices?
    • Quantifying carbon sinks in county for sequestration
    • Support and resources for local sustainability directors outside Ithaca
    • How do we promote commitment to climate justice and raise awareness of poverty and racial justice issues?
    • Regenerative agriculture and ways of sharing information that strengthen ties between rural and urban agroforestry initiatives

Group #4

  • Storm water management and rising sea levels
  • More structured and locally focused speaker series
  • Working groups focused on action
  • Reporting back on practical applications of topics covered in monthly meetings

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