Erie County Climate Action is Erie County’s green initiative to develop an equity-centered Community Climate Action Plan, to identify actions we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help the community adapt to our changing climate. Please click here for our Climate Action informational flyer in multiple languages.
Erie County has made a commitment to address climate change and help create a more sustainable region. Those efforts can be seen in the Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP) for internal operations, which was created by the Erie County Green Team and adopted by the Erie County Legislature in January 2019. Erie County issues annual updates on this work and has been recognized at both the state and national level for our achievements. For more information about the County's programs, please visit www.erie.gov/sustainability.
Erie County Community Climate Change Task Force
In order to address the community-wide emissions, Erie County’s Environmental Management Council, which advises the County on environmental issues, formed a Community Climate Change Task Force in January 2019. The County Executive recognized this Task Force as its official climate change advisory committee through Executive Order #20. The Task Force has key stakeholders in a variety of sectors – municipalities, community-based organizations, not-for-profits, education, utilities, transportation, as well as youth representatives and the Buffalo Museum of Science, which until the pandemic hosted the meetings. The Task Force laid the groundwork for a larger Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) by meeting monthly to discuss how current programs can work together to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The group continues to advise the County on the development of the CCAP and will play the same role as the plan is implemented. Click here to learn more about the Community Climate Change Task Force.
Climate Change Messages to Share
View and Download the Erie County Climate Action informational flyer
Erie County Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory
In the past, the County developed a community GHG inventory, which helped identify key focus areas for the Community Climate Action Plan. The inventory found that transportation, commercial energy consumption, and residential energy consumption are the top three GHG emission sources in Erie County. The County plans to update this inventory in the near future with forthcoming federal grant resources.
Equity as Focus
The legacy of inequity that has been inherited from previous generations is still present today in Erie County, as well as the rest of the country. The compounding issues of past economic policies, such as racially influenced zoning regulations and lending policies, termed “redlining,” have resulted in a segregated County that has areas with deep challenges, including lack of food access, lack of trees, old housing stock, and mobility issues. While many of these problems are most apparent in the urban areas of the County, rural communities also feel the impacts of inequity, poverty, and feeling forgotten.
Erie County has approached this Plan with a commitment to using an equity lens while developing the Plan’s strategies and action items. The working group members used the “Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool,” which is a series of questions to help ensure that a process does not forget to consider the impact of recommended strategies or actions on minority and disadvantaged communities. More information about this topic can be found in the Climate Justice chapter.
Energy Burden Mapping
High utility burdens can have substantial impacts on the livelihood and health of households in our community. A utility or energy burden represents the percentage of annual income that a household or individual pays toward their utility bills (electricity, natural gas, and/or water). Research has suggested that housing costs should not exceed 30% of household income and in turn, household energy costs should not exceed 20% of these housing costs (6% of total household income).
In addition to households with energy burdens of 6% or greater being considered in “high burden”, those with greater than 10% are considered in “severe burden.”
Energy and water burdens are functions of a number of physical and economic and social factors. Specifically, these burdens are driven by income, the quantity of the utilities consumed and the overall cost of these utility bills. Physical factors such as temperature and other weather patterns play critical roles in influencing the consumption and cost of these utilities.
Through ECLIPSE (Erie County Low Income Program for Sustainable Energy), created to identify specific areas around Erie County that are suffering from energy, electricity, gas, rent and utility burdens. These interactive maps show these burdens in comparison to median income, food deserts and percentage of tree canopy cover per area. Tree canopy cover is important because trees provide shade on high temperature days, create barriers to wind and other weather events and also aids in air quality.
In 2020, work began on the Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA). This project is assessing the threat of climate change to our community, the sensitivity of the community to those hazards, and the adaptive capacity of the County government to respond to those threats.
Assessing Climate Vulnerability in Erie County
The Assessing Climate Vulnerability article, written by Josh Wilson, was published in the NYSAC News - New York State Association of Counties Fall 2021 :The Climate Issue . This article gives an in-depth description of the CVA project.
Erie County Climate Action’ encourages County residents to play an active role in the development of this Plan. Your feedback is necessary to understand how climate change is affecting your community and your family, what you think we should include in the plan to reduce the impact of climate change and create jobs, make your home more comfortable, and make our region more livable.
Climate change affects everyone differently. Your input is important to ensure the plan specifically addresses how it is affecting your neighborhood, your backyard and your family. Even if you only have one minute, you can help can make a difference.
The Draft Community Climate Action Plan was released at the Climate Action Showcase on Saturday, March 18, 2023. The plan has been presented around Erie County and is open for public comment until June 18, 2023. A virtual meeting was held and the recording can be found here.
This Erie County Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) is focused on creating opportunities to address climate change while also protecting our residents, creating jobs, protecting productive farmland, and addressing issues of inequity. This Plan outlines goals, strategies, and actions that the County can take, whether directly or indirectly, to address this important issue.
Community Climate Action Plan - Timeline
In 2017, the County Executive issued an order directing all County departments to aggressively reduce GHG emissions. Erie County’s Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP), adopted in 2019, was written primarily to reduce the carbon footprint of the County’s internal operations. Erie County has been implementing the CASP and has been recognized both nationally and state-wide as a leader on climate action, receiving its designation as a Certified Silver Climate Smart Community and a Clean Energy Community
To better address climate change and reduce GHG emissions in the community, Erie County formed the Community Climate Change Task Force as the official advisory board on the issue and established Erie County Climate Action as the County’s planning process to create this equity-focused CCAP. The Task Force is a committee of the Erie County Environmental Management Council (EMC), which advises the County on environmental issues, and includes representatives from community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, youth groups, colleges, municipalities, business representatives, transportation organizations, a utility company, libraries, and museums.
Community Climate Action Plan - Scoping Document
Between March 2021 and February 2023, Erie County coordinated the development of the CCAP with over 100 volunteers from the Task Force and the community. The chapters were written to include goals, strategies, and tangible action items that Erie County can take to reduce GHG emissions.
|Thank You to Our Partners|
|Academy for Human Rights||Massachusetts Avenue Project|
|Barton & Loguidice||Monarch of Infinite Possibilities|
|Blue Green Alliance||NAACP|
|Buffalo & Erie County Library||National Grid|
|Buffalo Museum of Science||NeighborWorks Community Partners|
|Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper||NFTA - Metro|
|Buffalo Sewer Authority||Northland Workforce Training Center|
|Center for Biological Diversity||Partnership for the Public Good|
|Central Terminal Restoration Corp||Phillips Lytle LLP|
|Citizens for Regional Transit||PUSH Buffalo|
|City of Buffalo||Rich Products|
|Community Action Organization of WNY||Rural Transit Service|
|Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo||Russo's Auto Service|
|Cornell Cooperative Extension||Shared Mobility Inc.|
|Daemen University||Small Business Development Center|
|Designing to Live Sustainably||SUNY Erie|
|Empire State Development||The Bisons|
|Erie County Environment Management Council||Town of Evans|
|Erie County Industrial Development Agency||Town of Tonawanda|
|Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District||UB Regional Institute|
|Farmer Pirates||University at Buffalo - Students and faculty|
|FeedMore WNY||Villanove University|
|GObike Buffalo||West Side Promise Neighborhood|
|Grassroots Gardens||WNY AFL-CIO|
|Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council||WNY Environmental Alliance|
|Greater Buffalo Urban Growers||WNY Foundation|
|Guidehouse||WNY Homeless Alliance|
|Home HeadQuarters||WNY Land Conservancy|
|Kidney Foundation of WNY||WNY STEM HUB|
|Kreher Family Farms||WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable|
|Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance||Youth Climate Council|
|County Executive Office||Parks, Recreation & Forestry|
|Emergency Services||Public Works|
|Environment & Planning||Purchasing Department|
|Equal Employment Opportunities||Senior Services|
|Health & Health Equity||Social Services|
|Office of People with Disabilities||Workforce Investment Board|