Guest editorial: Some say collective action won’t curb climate change. They are wrong.
Summit Community Power Works and Utah Clean Energy
I’ve heard some people try to make the case that the collective actions we all take to address climate change don’t really add up. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The community-wide results of our individual actions are substantial. For example, let’s say your neighbor switched out the lights in their home to LEDs. She just prevented roughly 300 pounds of CO2 a year. Then there is the carpool crew at your work. A few coworkers carpooling 100 miles per week saves 87 gallons of gas annually, which adds up to 1,740 pounds of CO2. And how about the guy down the street with solar panels on his roof? It turns out that for every kilowatt installed, he saves roughly 2,500 pounds of CO2 annually, which averages to over 12,000 pounds of CO2 for the average five-KW system. The three actions listed above amount to thousands of pounds of emissions NOT polluting our air and climate. And these are only three examples of relatively easy, straightforward actions to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Now compound that when we work together as a community.
Here is a fun fact: According to an article published by the Utah Geological Survey, since 2013, electricity sales in Utah decreased and then flatlined. This is despite the fact that Utah’s population and economy are booming. So why hasn’t our electricity usage continued to climb? You guessed it, our collective actions to reduce energy waste (aka increase energy efficiency) and install rooftop solar have put the brakes on increased demand for electricity across the state.
Individual actions at home and work do make a positive impact on the health of our climate. But there is more we can and must do to turn the tide on climate change. Local leaders have set forth bold and ambitious climate goals aiming to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030 (Park City) and cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 (Summit County). Another way to help meet these goals to reduce emissions is to use electric heat pumps for space and water heating at home. As our electric grid transitions to 100% clean energy, these types of heating systems are needed to achieve zero-emission homes since they cut direct emissions from natural gas combustion.
Even as our local governments adopt visionary goals and policies, we can’t make it without bold action from each of us. That means you. And you. And you! We need the whole community — businesses and residents — to step up and commit to reducing your footprint.
It can be hard to know where to start. This is where the SCPW Challenge comes in. The challenge is a call-to-action for Park City and Summit County residents to reduce CO2 emissions and save money by conserving energy and water, using alternative transportation and other methods. The interactive online platform provides a way for the community to work together in reducing overall carbon emissions through actions ranging from “easy” to “challenging” with local resources to complete each action, and includes any available incentives and rebates. It’s also easy to create teams from your neighborhood, school, faith group or workplace and enter a friendly competition to cut CO2 emissions. Rally your friends, neighbors and colleagues, create a team and act! Even though we’ve only just started the SCPW Challenge, our community already has reduced its carbon footprint by 9,000 pounds of CO2! Can we make that 100,000?
We call upon all Park City and Summit County residents to take the SCPW Challenge and participate in a community-wide effort to address climate change. Together, we can make a difference.
Ryan Anderson is the community program coordinator for Summit Community Power Works and Utah Clean Energy.