Climate Action Collaborative: Reducing our transportation pollution | VailDaily.com
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Climate Action Collaborative: Reducing our transportation pollution

Kim Schlaepfer
Climate Action Collaborative
In Eagle County, the average person drives around 40 miles a day — that’s twice the national average for American miles traveled per day.
Special to the Daily

In Eagle County, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation represent 36% of our overall community emissions, equal to about 460,000 metric tons of carbon each and every year. There are two primary means of reducing these emissions.

The first is by reducing the number of miles we travel in fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The second is by cleaning up the fuel source we use to power our vehicles. Each of these two actions will need to happen simultaneously in order to drop our transportation emissions in line to achieve our Climate Action Plan goal of an 80% carbon emission reduction by 2050.

First, reduce miles traveled in fossil fuel-powered vehicles

In Eagle County, the average person drives around 40 miles a day — that’s twice the national average for American miles traveled per day. And while it sounds like a lot, it’s easy to see the miles add up as we think about our drives between our Eagle County communities to go to work, run errands, see friends, or do activities.

We are programmed to use our cars in this community because of the long linear nature of the valley and the ease in which we can use our cars, but there are many ways we can cut back the daily miles in our car. Eagle County has four bus providers, a county-wide bike trail, a bike share, park and rides, and more — all of which offer up smarter commuting options for our workforce.

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Smart commuting is defined as any means of commuting outside of driving alone — walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus or (an option we are all too familiar with nowadays) working from home. We have plenty of commuting options at our disposal and we’re working as a community to make these options even better.

The Climate Action Collaborative for the Eagle County Community launched a commuter study to understand how we can improve transportation options in our community to support more smart commuting options for our local workforce. If you haven’t already, share your thoughts by completing our study at walkingmountains.org/commuterstudy.

Second, clean up the fuel source powering our vehicles

The majority of the cars we own run off of gasoline and diesel fuel, both of which emit carbon dioxide along with a host of other pollutants as we drive. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, have zero tail-pipe emissions — meaning they do not pollute as they drive. The emissions associated with electric vehicles are from the electricity that powers them.

In areas where there is a coal-intense grid powering electric lines, electric cars are not much better than gasoline cars. However, in Eagle County, we have electricity that is currently powered by 40% renewable energy and is quickly moving toward 70% renewable energy — making electric vehicles driven in our community cleaner than any gasoline-powered car.

The Climate Action Collaborative recognizes that one of the best opportunities we have to draw down carbon emissions is with a rapid transition to electric vehicles over the next 30 years. And our community leaders have started to respond. By the end of June 2020, partners around Eagle County are slated to install five new fast-charging stations with more on the way.

Building codes in specific communities will soon require EV infrastructure while businesses and local governments have begun to install charging stations as they see the value EV charging provides to employees and guests. The town of Vail and ECO Transit are also receiving all-electric buses this year as a push to begin electrifying transit.

Not only will this work be beneficial for our community, it all ladders up to the Colorado EV Plan 2020— a statewide plan to bring 1 million electric vehicles to Colorado by 2030 along with light and heavy-duty trucks, transit buses and robust state-wide charging infrastructure.

It’s your turn

Transportation-related emissions are the biggest contributor to our community’s carbon footprint. Do your part to help the Climate Action Collaborative achieve its carbon reduction goals of 80% by 2050 by rethinking the way you get around. By eliminating one gas and diesel car ride at a time, our community can #BeBetterTogether.

Kim Schlaepfer is the project manager for the Climate Action Collaborative, which is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.


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