to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Meeting Highlights: 2020

February 2020
January 2020

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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