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On October 8th 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Special Report 15, stating that the world needs to limit global warming 2.7* Fahrenheit (or 1.5* Celsius) above pre-industrial levels in the coming 12 years to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. In order for this to happen,the agreed targets are a 49% carbon reduction by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050. We have a vital interest here in Milton bordering the Neponset River and Boston Harbor, where sea levels are expected to rise at least eight inches by 2030, 1.5 feet higher by 2050, and three feet higher by 2070. The good news is that IPCC reports that actions are underway to address the sea rise problem, they just need to drastically accelerate. And so do we.
The challenge for carbon neutrality by 2050 is now in sight given the doubling of renewable energy generation since 2008, now powering 18% of the U.S. In New England, efforts are under way with Boston’s Carbon Free initiative and the Net Zero Action Plans in Cambridge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, while the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has outlined their own Net Zero Planning process. The Sustainable South Shore
network representing 18 south shore communities including Milton (represented by Sustainable Milton) is looking to follow the lead of towns like Concord with warrant articles for 100% clean energy by 2050, and explore new tools like Community Choice Aggregation (CCG).
On June of 2018, the Massachusetts Senate passed an ambitious clean energy bill that sets the State on a path for 100% renewable power by 2050, a commitment the cities of Boston and Cambridge have also made along with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). This goal is reached in part by increasing the State’s renewable portfolio by 3% each year while maintaining the country’s highest efficiency reductions. An amendment to the Senate bill that did not make it called for home energy scorecards, now a common real estate feature in European countries.The Mass Dept. of Energy Resources (DOER) is collaborating with Mass Save on a similar test effort for a home scorecard called Home MPG, providing interactive tools for homeowners to encourage more and deeper energy efficiency upgrades.
Thankfully,New England regional organizations (like the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) have been promoting in depth building science and training to homeowners and building professionals for achieving 50% to 90% energy reductions, defined as deep energy retrofits(DER). These homes often have solar photo voltaics (PV) to take homes down to a HERS score of 0, or Zero-net energy (ZNE), where the total amount of energyused by the building is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. The growing use of high efficiency air to air heat pumps and water heaters that provide both heating and cooling are the perfect match for PV, and help Energy Plus Homes, creating excess electricity, also power their electric vehicles.
Not an easy task ahead, this effort will require community stakeholders,businesses, institutions and houses of worship to join in at every level with in our town and region. But this is a campaign that requires our participation,with our own families and homes to help leave the next generation with a safer and greener planet.