In 2011, the Donella Meadows Institute developed the first of its kind “context-based community climate mitigation tool” in collaboration with the Sustainability Committee of Hanover, New Hampshire USA. This unique approach allows communities to set local targets for annual CO2 emissions based on global emissions scenarios.1 The tool, which provides community-specific information based on data inputs, can be translated for use in other communities by inputting different, local data sets.
The power of the tool is that it uses local data to determine the future allowable emissions for that community or region by source. Residents, town officials, and employers can see their specific contribution to current emissions, developing understanding and motivating commitment to future reduction. The tool facilitates setting of pledges, and then allows stakeholders (either individually or collectively) to see the implications of those pledges on both the local and global level.
The concept of the tool arose from a session facilitated by DMI and the Sustainable Hanover Committee in February of 2011. Community stakeholders at this meeting envisioned a tool that would help all community members address local contributions to emissions. As a result, DMI consulted with Chris Soderquist of Pontifex Consulting to assist them in building a context-based tool based on a private sector approach applied to Ben & Jerry’s by the Center for Sustainable Organizations.
After working with local, state, and national experts on energy, emissions, and climate, the first tool was demonstrated to town officials and Sustainable Hanover in September of 2011. Members of the Sustainable Hanover Committee are currently developing an education plan to deploy the tool to the broader community.
1An emissions scenario is a series (trend over time) of annual emissions projected into the future. Many scientists (including James Hansen of NASA) believe that global CO2 concentration must return to (and stabilize at) 350 ppm to avoid serious global climate implications. Therefore, Sustainable Hanover has chosen one of several mitigation scenarios (WRE 350 by Wigley, Richels and Edmonds) that would return CO2 concentration to 350 – if followed on a global level.