The Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board (EEAB) held a virtual public meeting on Thursday, March 4, to present the county’s proposed Climate Action Plan. The meeting was attended by more than 150 individuals who tuned in to listen and provide feedback on the county’s efforts towards climate action planning.
Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline provided a warm welcome and opening remarks about the county’s proposed plan.
“County wide surveys regularly show that people place great importance on Chester County’s natural environment, open space and trail networks – all of which are key elements of climate action planning,” commented Commissioner Moskowitz. “The county’s long term commitment to resource protection and climate action planning can help to ensure a bright and sustainable future for our 525,000-plus residents and 15,000-plus businesses. This is what we all want for our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.”
Commissioner Maxwell provided his remarks next, noting the county’s initial efforts towards climate action planning which began more than a decade ago. “Work on addressing climate change began in 2010, when the county released its first effort to specifically address carbon emissions in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Report,” he said. “As you’ll hear this evening, the county has already made progress since that report was released in becoming more energy efficient and reducing its own carbon footprint.”
“The current proposed plan specifically implements the Landscapes3 objective for a clean and resilient energy network, by advancing resilient energy generation and distribution, promoting energy conservation, supporting renewable energy sources, and reducing greenhouse gases,” added Commissioner Kichline. “Chester County’s dedication to environmental sustainability and resource protection is a lifelong commitment – and through the efforts and initiatives led by our partners and communities, we can make sure that we continue to thrive and grow in the best way possible.”
Following the Commissioners’ comments, Planning Commission Executive Director, Brian O’Leary, highlighted some of the ways the county measures resource protection efforts on a yearly basis, specifically in regards to the “Protect” and “Connect” goals found in Landscapes3. Some examples from 2020 included the preservation of the Bryn Coed and Crow’s Nest Preserves, the 50th Anniversary celebration of Earth Day, and through funding for various watershed educational programs.
The EEAB’s Chair, Jess Cadorette, along with Vice-Chair, Paul Spiegel, spoke next about the need for a Climate Action Plan for Chester County, including the plan’s primary goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by the year 2050 (which aligns with regional and state Climate Action Plan Reduction Goals).
Carol Stauffer, Assistant Director of the Planning Commission and one of the leaders throughout this initiative, provided a deeper dive into the plan itself with an overview of some of the proposed key goals, initiatives, and action items. Her presentation included the plan’s overall vision to “reduce the county’s contribution to global climate change,” as well as background information about how the plan has been developed to date.
Some action items highlighted in Stauffer’s presentation included implementing green building standards, developing alternate energy ordinances, installing electric charging stations, and developing a waste diversion plan for the county, among many others. Each of the action items noted falls into a specific performance category: buildings and energy; transportation and land use; waste management; and agriculture, food and forestry.
“There are other benefits that result from the climate action plan besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” added Stauffer. “This includes improving public health through increased walkability and improved air quality, saving money in energy bills, reducing flooding risks, enhancing resource security, creating jobs, and fostering social equity by reducing the impacts of extreme weather events in our more vulnerable communities.”
A question and answer session followed Stauffer’s presentation, where attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the plan and express their feedback. The session was concluded by a discussion about next steps for the plan, which includes consolidating and reviewing public comments and completing a final revision before the plan’s official release.
To view a draft of the proposed Climate Action Plan, review the slideshow, or watch the live recording of the public meeting, visit https://chescoplanning.org/Environmental/ClimateAction.cfm.