Erie County Climate Action
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.
We need your input! 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.
Please view the press event video
Sustainability is a broad topic that encompasses a host of issues that the County has been working on for many years. This page will focus on actions that directly relate to climate change mitigation and resilience. Erie County’s longstanding work on watershed management, household hazardous waste, solid waste and recycling, habitat restoration, and stormwater are all sustainability issues that can be found the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning Environmental Services page
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In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on the significant impacts of climate change even if the global temperature is held to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase from pre-industrial conditions. The report, authored by 18 scientists with more than 69 contributing authors, makes clear that unprecedented action is needed to avoid catastrophic changes to the climate. Scientific reports and first-hand experience provide overwhelming evidence that climate change is one of the most significant threats to Erie County. Indeed, it will have far-reaching impacts on the entire community and affect the County’s ability to deliver services. Erie County can do its part to support worldwide efforts to reduce the severity of these impacts by taking action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the community and from its own operations.
Erie County has shown strong leadership on environmental sustainability and climate protection. In June 2017, the County Executive issued Executive Order 17, which requires the County to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement: a 26-28% reduction of 2005 GHG emissions by 2025.
The Climate Action & Sustainability Plan (CASP) outlines and prioritizes ways the County can further reduce GHG emissions from its internal operations through action items specific to each chapter. Overall GHG emission reduction goals were set for a short-term timeframe, mid-term time, which aligns with the Paris Agreement, and long-term. The following reduction goals are set against a 2005 baseline and were based on initiatives already begun within County operations, and from the measures listed in the CASP:
- 32% by 2020;
- 50% by 2025; and
- 80% by 2040.
Many initiatives within the Climate Action and Sustainability Plan (CASP) conserve energy from Erie County government buildings. Erie County reports building energy use, building greenhouse gas emissions, and other building energy metrics annually to allow the community to better understand our progress.
- Building Energy Use Report - 2018
- Building Energy Use Report - 2019
- Building Energy Use Report - 2020
Erie County has established a Green Team to pursue sustainability initiatives in its internal operations. As called for in “Initiatives for a Smart Economy”, the Green Team is focusing on energy reduction and resource conservation projects that will decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, prevent pollution, reduce waste, and save money throughout the County’s daily operations.
The Erie County Green Team is made up of representatives of every County department, including those led by other elected officials such as the Sheriff and the Comptroller. The team met monthly in the County Executive’s conference room and brainstormed actions the County could take to reduce their GHG emissions from government operations. The Green Team now meets quarterly to report on progress associated with implementing the initiatives listed in the CASP.
Green Team Representatives:
|Board of Elections||Currently Vacant|
|Central Police Services||Brian Speers|
|County Clerk||Currently vacant|
|County Executive||Jen Hibit, Andrew McLaren|
|Environment and Planning||Dan Castle, Gary Carrel, Bonnie Lawrence, Tracy Skalski, Josh Wilson, Nicole Morris-McLaughlin|
|Environmental Management Council||Jane Vohwinkel|
|DEP, Div. of Sewerage Management||Joe Fiegl|
|Mental Health||Marcia Kuma|
|Information Support Services||Rachel Solly|
|District Attorney||Joseph Spino|
|Public Works||Bill Geary, Reed Braman, Tim Elling, Joe Mirabelli, Karen Hoak|
|Emergency Services||Gregory Butcher|
|Health||Jennifer Delaney, Julia Gruspier|
|Library||Mark Kross, Tom Murphy|
|Medicaid Inspector General||Mike Szukala|
|Parks||Troy Schinzel, Chuck Bartlett, Mark Cornell|
|Public Advocacy and Office for Disabled||Frank Cammarata|
|Real Property Tax Services||Lauren O'Meara|
|Senior Services||Erin Mahoney|
|Social Services||Mary Ellen Brockmyre, Steven Dlugosz, Carrie Godfrey, Diana Rose|
|Veterans Services||Felice Krycia|
Erie County was recently designated a Silver Certified Climate Smart Community by New York State, which is currently the highest level of the program. Visit our Climate Smart Communities report, which outlines all of Erie County’s completed initiatives.
The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Certified communities are the foremost leaders in the state, having gone beyond pledging to take climate action to completing and documenting a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level.
Erie County is working on developing an equity-centered Community Climate Action Plan. This plan will align with the work being done at by New York State to implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and its goals. To learn more about this planning process and how you can be involved, visit www.erie.gov/climateaction.
Erie County Climate Action grew out of the work that was done after the federal government pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017. For more information on that history, see below.
“Erie County can take action to ensure its part in protecting the well-being and future of our planet by promulgating a plan to implement the United States target contribution plan to the Paris Agreement, as it pertains to Erie County, and to take such further action as it may by law to enforce the target contribution goals set by the United States within the bounds of the County of Erie, State of New York.”
This statement in Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s 2017 Executive Order #17, Enforcement of the Paris Climate Agreement, captured the essence of why Erie County was compelled to take action on this global priority despite a lack of leadership at the federal level during the former administration. Along with other state and local officials across the United States, County Executive Poloncarz seeks to protect our County, as well as our state, nation and world, from the impacts of climate change by committing to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In response to that Executive Order, the County released the Erie County Commits to Paris report in January 2018. The report included GHG inventories for both County operations and the community as a whole, as well as 37 initiatives to decrease GHG emissions.
- Erie County Commits to Paris
- Erie County Commits to Paris - Executive Summary
- Erie County Commits to Paris - 2018 Update
- Erie County Commits to Paris - 2019 Update
- Erie County Commits to Paris - 2020 Update
- Erie County 2021 Climate Action Update
The Environment Management Council (EMC) Committee is an advisory board to the County, largely made up of municipal representatives, as well as 12 at-large members. In 2019, the EMC convened a Climate Change Task Force that, as a committee of the EMC, will provide expert guidance and community input to the County as it makes decisions about its climate change mitigation, resilience and other sustainability actions.
EMC Community Climate Change Task Force Members:
|Susan Clark||SUNY University at Buffalo, Chair|
|Brenda Young||EMC, Daemen College|
|George Besch||EMC, Designing to Live Sustainably (D2LS)|
|Jason Kulaszewski||EMC, UB Regional Institute|
|Paul Michalec||EMC, Town of Evans|
|David Hahn Baker||EMC|
|Lynda Schneekloth||Sierra Club|
|Rahwa Ghirmatzion||PUSH Buffalo|
|Clarke Gocker||PUSH Buffalo|
|Kelly Camacho||PUSH Buffalo|
|Luz Valez||PUSH Buffalo|
|Doug Funke||Citizens for Regional Transit|
|Jon Nickerson||National Grid|
|Whiney Skeans||National Grid|
|Jason Paananen||City of Buffalo|
|Kelley St. John||City of Buffalo|
|Meghan Dye||Buffalo Museum of Science|
|Sarah Wooton||Partnership for the Public Good|
|Richard Lipsitz||WNY Area Labor Federation|
|Matthew Sutton||Town of Tonawanda|
|Randy Pekarski||Town of Tonawanda|
|Mark Shriver||WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable|
|Emily Dyett||Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper|
|Nadya Elhalawany||WNY Youth Climate Council|
|Julie Barrett O'Neill||LISC|
|Paul Maurer||Re-Tree WNY|
|John Whitney||Cornell Cooperative Extension|
|Kevin Meindl||Buffalo Sewer Authority|
|Sydney Collins||Buffalo Sewer Authority|
|Nancy Smith||Western New York Land Conservancy|
|Kyle Semmel||Western New York Land Conservancy|
|Ignacio Villa||Farmer Pirates|
|Lisa Maybee||Seneca Nation of Indians|
|Andrew McLaren||County Executive's Office|
|Maria Whyte||County Executive's Office|
|Dan Castle||Erie County DEP|
|Tracy Skalski||Erie County DEP|
|Josh Wilson||Erie County DEP|
|Bonnie Lawrence||Erie County DEP|
|Nicole Morris-McLaughlin||Erie County DEP|
|Sarah Gatti||Erie County DEP|
|Tuona Batchelor||Erie County DEP|
|Joy Testa Cinquino||Buffalo & Erie County Public Library - Central Library|
|Hannah Holden||Erie County DSS|
|Diana Rose||Erie County DSS|
Transportation is the largest part of the County’s carbon footprint and supporting EVs is an important way to green our transportation system. Based on the fuels used in New York State’s energy grid, electric vehicles emit 85% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline powered vehicles. EVs can also reduce harmful pollution that impacts human health.·
Erie County has installed fourteen (14) public charging stations at parks across the County, with several more in the works. These projects, which help support the transition to sustainable transportation, have been supported by federal and state grants. Click here for a map of the County’s EV charging stations.
A Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) identifies and describes important naturally-occurring resources within a community, watershed or region. It provides the basis for land conservation planning, allows natural resource information to be included in local planning and zoning, and provides communities with a strong foundation for informed decision-making. Launch Erie County's Natural Resource Inventory Online Story Map
Climate change is increasingly impacting our community. Projected local impacts include more severe flood and wind events, higher temperatures and heat waves, and biological impacts from invasive species, vector borne disease, and harmful algal blooms. Many of these impacts will disproportionately impact vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities. Erie County has an important role in planning and taking actions to make the community more resilient to climate change.
Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment
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. The CVA is being conducted in partnership with a research team at the University at Buffalo, and with input from our community stakeholders on the Community Climate Change Task Force.
The first milestone of the CVA was the Draft Erie County Climate Hazards Summary Report, which provides a review of the threat of climate change to our local community, and recommends climate hazards that will be the focus of the CVA project. The second milestone was the Final Draft Erie County Sensitivity Analysis Report. Both documents are linked below.
- The Draft Erie County Climate Hazards Summary Report;
- Final Draft Erie County Sensitivity Analysis Report
This project is funded by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities program, and will wrap up by the end of 2022.
Low and moderate income households spend a disproportionately large percentage of their income on energy bills, and are often unable to take advantage of the cost savings from renewable energy alternatives. The Erie County Low-Income Program for Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE) will address these impacts for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) eligible families.
Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and an in-kind County match, this three-year program will first analyze community needs and intervention strategies, and then implement the most effective solutions.
ECLIPSE will focus on:
- bulk energy and green-energy purchasing;
- access to community solar; and
- related energy efficiency and resiliency improvements.
The program works through several County departments including: Environment and Planning, Social Services and Public Works.
The ECLIPSE grant provides for careful analysis and documentation of achievements, and includes the development of a public-facing dashboard that will provide transparency and allow for replication of Erie County’s successes by counties across the state.
WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable (SBR) connects and supports leaders and professionals from business and industry, academia, non-profit and government who are investing in sustainability and the triple bottom line. USEPA grants obtained by Erie County were critical to getting the WNYSBR off the ground. The County continues to provide significant support to the WNYSBR, including as a standing member of its board of directors.
SBR members have pledged to make their organizations more effective, efficient, and profitable as they:
- Optimize use of energy & materials;
- Reduce waste & pollution;
- Protect waterways;
- Invest in their community; and
- Reduce the severity of climate change
Click here for a video about the WNYSBR’s Clean Production Leader’s Program.
Erie County is hiring paid Sustainability and Clean Energy Interns! Position descriptions linked below:
- Community Climate Action Plan Intern
- Erie County Low Income Program For Sustainable Energy (ECLIPSE) Research Intern
- ECLIPSE Outreach Intern
- Building Performance Intern
- Green Fleet Intern (plan to hire later in 2022, position description pending)
To learn more download the program flyer here.