Coupeville dusting off greenhouse gas effort

Coupeville was ahead of the climate-conscious curve when it created a greenhouse gas inventory nearly 15 years ago. Now, the town is dusting off that old effort to bring it up to date and create a springboard for more sustainability efforts, according to Mayor Molly Hughes.

Tuesday night, she received the nod from council members to continue in a program sponsored by the organization Local Governments for Sustainability, which was formerly known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives and is known as ICLEI.

Hughes and council member Jenny Bright will participate in a series of online trainings to update the inventory of the town’s greenhouse gas emissions with technical assistance from the international organization.

The mayor had ended the little-used membership to the climate group in 2016, soon after she was elected, she said. But upon recently learning of the trainings and technical support provided by the organization, she received council approval to join for $600 a year.

“The technical assistance just to get a greenhouse gas inventory is worth membership this year,” Hughes said.

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, so Hughes requested the council set aside approximately $3,000 in the 2020 budget for sustainability efforts in anticipation of the holiday.

She also recently convened a climate advisory group with Bright and interested citizens. Through the group, she hopes to gain insight on the type of environmental and climate-related projects the public would like to see the town take on as well as garner volunteer support to implement them, Hughes said.

Large efforts, such as creating and updating the original inventory, fell by the wayside after the recession and a council of governments climates sustainability position was dropped, Hughes said in an interview.

Many of Coupeville’s improvements aren’t reflected in the calculation of its carbon footprint, Hughes said. In fact, the 2006 document had apparently been lost for a number of years.

“It’s one thing to say ‘oh, yay, we switched out our street lights,’ but it’ll be fun to know what effect that really had,” Hughes said.

Town Clerk Treasurer Kelly Beech somehow managed to find the original file, which had been “misnamed” and saved in an unusual location on the town’s server, Hughes told council members.

Going forward, Hughes hopes the town will participate in another training series from the organization to create an action plan.

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