Prince William County took a bold step forward in combating the climate crisis, adopting our first ever Community Energy & Sustainability Master Plan. The product of more than a year of research and community engagement, the plan creates a blueprint for lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and making our communities more climate resilient.
It’s built on recommendations from the Sustainability Commission and the climate mitigation goals that I put forth in November 2020, and includes actions items designed to move the County towards 5 key objectives:
- Cut greenhouse gas emission to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030
- Source all electricity for from renewable sources by 2035
- Reach 100% renewable electricity in county operations by 2030
- Achieve carbon neutrality in County government operations by 2050
- Become a member of a Climate Ready Region, with significant progress toward being a Climate Resilient Region by 2030
Board critics of the plan, which passed in a 5-3 vote, talked about implentation costs, but failed to weigh the cost of inaction. The price of climate change isn’t purely theoretical or a concern for the distant future. (See ‘Economic Risks of Climate Change in the US.’) Here in Prince William, we are already grappling with costly impacts of severe weather events, such as overwhelmed storm water management systems and increased salinity in waterways.
As I said on Tuesday, this is an important first step and the plan will evolve as it is implemented. Now isn’t a time to allow perfect to be the enemy of the good. The plan sets the stage to create a sustainability framework for future land use decisions, and to more holisticly weigh environmental impacts and mitigation strategies. For instance, green building innovations are largely absent from development conversations in Prince William. I look forward to changing that.
Following the vote, I issued a directive for CXO Chris Shorter to determine priority action items and recommend the first steps of implementation, inclusive of the items in my Fast-track Climate Actions Directive, which passed in Spring 2023.
Thank you to all of the community members, climate advocates, and County staff who participated in the development of the Community Energy & Sustainability Master Plan. Our future is brighter thanks to your efforts.