Climate change is mostly, if not entirely, the result of greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity. Most of that is from the burning of fossil fuels. Climate change is already causing serious problems around the world but the main form that disruption takes varies from one region to another. In the Southwest, for example, the primary problem is prolonged, severe drought. In our area, the worst effect so far has been to make major flooding much more likely.
New York State recognizes the seriousness of climate change. That is what prompted then Governor Paterson to issue Executive Order #24 in 2009, renewed by Governor Cuomo when he took office. It calls for an 80 percent reduction in New York State greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Needless to say, an 80 percent reduction is a very challenging goal. But that is what is needed, if not more.
There are many helpful steps that our Tioga County municipalities can be taking. Here are two: First, discourage any plans to extend our fossil fuel infrastructure because these are wasted investments that simply make it that much harder for our state to reach its 80 percent emissions reduction goal. Second, encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources.
One great way to start would be to install solar panels on the roofs of municipal buildings sufficient to supply all of their electricity. I have heard of municipalities doing so at little or no up-front cost through the use of a leasing arrangement and a power purchase agreement. Not only would those solar panels help reduce the climate change problem but they would also protect against increases in future electric rates.