Lexington Leaps Forward on Considering Climate Change!

February 27 was the night the Town of Lexington decided that our next school will not use fossil fuels to heat the building! This is a really important decision for our health and for our future. 

The Town of Lexington also approved the Community Choice Aggregation program – that we hope will move our electricity to 100% renewable energy all at lower costs than Eversource’s basic service rates. 

Thanks to everyone at Sustainable Lexington for bringing these initiatives to our Board of Selectmen and to LexGWAC and Mothers Out Front who supported these initiatives. 

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are making good progress by working together. Thank you!!! 

Why all these actions are so important for all of us – can be explained in part by an article that was published in 2015 – outlining the reasons why we all need to stop deploying fossil fuel infrastructure by 2018.  Here is a short segment from the article:

In only three years there will be enough fossil fuel-burning stuff—cars, homes, factories, power plants, etc.—built to blow through our carbon budget for a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. Never mind staying below a safer, saner 1.5°C of global warming. The relentless laws of physics have given us a hard, non-negotiable deadline, making G7 statements about a fossil fuel-phase out by 2100 or a weak deal at the UN climate talks in Paris irrelevant.

“By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again unless they’re either replacements for old ones or are carbon neutral? Are you sure I worked that out right?” I asked Steve Davis of the University of California, co-author of a new climate study.

“We didn’t go that far in our study. But yes, your numbers are broadly correct. That’s what this study means,” Davis told me over the phone last fall.

Davis and co-author Robert Socolow of Princeton University published a groundbreaking paper in Environmental Research Letters last August, entitled “Commitment accounting of CO2 emissions.” A new coal plant will emit CO2 throughout its 40- to 60- year lifespan. That’s called a carbon commitment. A new truck or car will mean at least 10 years of CO2 emissions. Davis and Socolow’s study estimated how much CO2 will be emitted by most things that burn oil, gas, or coal, and it is the first to actually total up all of these carbon commitments.

Based on their work, I estimated that if we continue to build new fossil fuel burning stuff at the average rate of the last five years, we’ll make enough new carbon commitments to blow through our 2°C carbon budget sometime in 2018.

“Is that really where we are?” I asked Davis.

There was a pause, and I could hear the happy sounds of children playing from his end of the phone. Eventually Davis said “yes, that’s where we find ourselves.”

[A Hard Deadline]