City to use credits, cash to cut back greenhouse gases
When the city joined the Chicago Climate Exchange last year, it became legally bound to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1 percent each year. And if Aspen fails, the city could incur a penalty.”We [would] have to buy credits to offset those emissions,” said Dan Richardson, the city’s global warming project manager. “It costs us money if we don’t comply.”Right now, that could be $2,000 to $5,000 a year, but “in the years to come … those offsets are going to be more expensive,” Richardson said.To help achieve the new goals, each department of city government is now responsible for reducing its own emissions by 1 percent. The city has also employed a program that allows departments to trade credits they earn for dropping even further below the 1 percent goal.This sort of “cap and trade” program is “what economists agree is the most cost-effective and efficient way to reduce emissions,” Richardson said.For example, if one department has an inefficient boiler that increases emissions, the department could replace the boiler. But perhaps the boiler is fairly new, just not energy efficient. If the boiler cost $10,000 to replace, the department could propose spending half that on offseting credits from another department that has reduced its emissions by more than 1 percent.”It’s a model that can be applied to other businesses and schools and other entities, so I’m kind of excited about it,” Richardson said.Although the trading can help even out discrepancies, he said the city has encouraged all departments to first seek to reduce emissions before resorting to trades.But “in some cases, that’s just not going to be feasible,” Richardson said.Small departments with hardly any emissions might have trouble finding ways for reductions. It could be some time before other departments buy more efficient equipment.The police department, for instance, bought new patrol vehicles just before the Canary Initiative, Richardson said. Those cars have fewer sulfide emissions but higher carbon emissions, but the department bought the cars “before they were told to reduce carbon emissions.””They just purchased vehicles that sort of skew the baseline,” Richardson said. “You can’t exactly ask them to drive less.”And just to give employees that last bit of incentive to meet new environmental goals, the city has put a little money on the table.Last year, Richardson said, Aspen employees had the potential to earn a bonus of up to $1,200. But with the city’s greenhouse gas budget incentives, each employee can earn up to $200 more if his or her department meets the 1 percent goal and $100 if the whole city meets the goal.Aspen’s goals are only part of a much larger goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”Globally, what we need to accomplish is about a 70-80 percent reduction by mid-century,” Richardson said.For 2006, Aspen will have to settle for 1 percent. But with the city’s environmental efforts, combined with the purchase of additional wind power, Richardson said “it’s very possible that we, as a city, will meet that 1 percent reduction below last year.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is email@example.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
A recent economic impact study on the arts and culture industry in Pitkin County shows that it brought over $450 million to the community in jobs and spending in 2019. What does that mean for the post-pandemic world?