The switch to fossil fuels in Amherst

The climate crisis alert, which has sounded continuously for many years, is now sounding. In the first nine months of 2021, the United S...



The climate crisis alert, which has sounded continuously for many years, is now sounding. In the first nine months of 2021, the United States experienced 18 distinct climate disasters resulting in loss of lives, livelihoods, ecosystems and $ 104.8 billion in disaster costs.

In 2018, the group of scientists known as the IPCC told us unequivocally that to avoid even worse impacts from climate change, we need to halve our climate emissions by 2030 and reduce them to near zero by here 2050. In 2019, Amherst decided to set climate goals consistent with this science, followed closely by Massachusetts and fortunately this year the United States.

Earlier this summer, the International Energy Agency released a roadmap for the global energy sector, setting out the key milestones, technical advancements, policies and behavior changes needed to give us a chance. to reach the 2050 target. A milestone is by 2025 we must stop all new sales of fossil fuel heating systems. This means that in as little as four years, every new building and existing building that needs a new heating system must be ready to ditch fossil fuels and use electric heat pumps.

We face an uphill battle in Amherst. Energy use in homes and buildings is our biggest source of emissions and a challenge we face. Heating with electric heat pumps has many advantages, including lower costs and better indoor air quality. But to realize these benefits, many homes and buildings will need improvements in efficiency and weather protection – airtightness, new insulation, better windows – which improves comfort and can save a lot of money. money over time, but costs money upfront.

While there are discounts and interest-free loans, they can be difficult to access, especially for residents with language barriers, limited confidence in government programs, or who are unable to afford the costs. ‘advance. Tenants, who can suffer the most from high energy bills and unhealthy indoor air due to outdated equipment and poor building envelopes, often have limited influence or understanding of how their landlord can or not prioritize improvements, or how they can pass costs on to tenants.

If the Jones Library project is successful, it will help us get started. Obtaining this grant will allow us to make the necessary efficiency improvements to replace four 31-year-old natural gas boilers with a heat pump system that can run on renewable electricity.

This grant will allow us to have a library that uses less energy, no fossil fuels, has cleaner air and costs less to operate while offering more services. Without matching grant funds this change will require much more funding from the city and most likely we will be forced to replace aging boilers with new fossil fuel boilers as we cannot afford the major upgrades. that this grant supports.

If we care about the climate crisis and achieving our goals, we simply cannot afford to miss an opportunity to replace fossil fuel heating systems as quickly and cost effectively as possible.

Beyond this, the recently finalized Climate, Adaptation and Resilience Action Plan, as well as the recently approved Comprehensive Housing Policy, both identify the important intersection between increasing the supply of affordable, resilient housing. climate friendly and fossil fuel free.

The Affordable Housing Trust is working with the city and the Energy and Climate Action Committee to examine how we can maximize funding sources, including the city’s new funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA ), to reduce barriers to implementing efficiency improvements and heat pumps in existing single and multi-family homes.

Resourcing community organizations to lead awareness, as well as identifying job training opportunities that create wealth in our community by putting people to work in high paying jobs will be essential to make these improvements. We need to find the right mix of incentives and policy changes to get all building owners in the city (single and multi-family, higher education and business) to take the necessary steps to weather the weather and electrify.

We need to hold elected officials at all levels accountable for supporting the financing and policy mechanisms needed to switch from fossil fuels. Then, as a community, we must work together to implement. The opportunity to tackle climate change while tackling affordable housing, health disparities, energy inequalities and job creation cannot be wasted.

Through innovation and collaboration, we can present Amherst as a shining example of intersectional climate action.

Laura Draucker is a climate expert, resident of Amherst and chair of the Energy and Climate Action Committee. The opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the Energy and Climate Action Committee.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The switch to fossil fuels in Amherst
The switch to fossil fuels in Amherst
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