Author Archives: Alexandra Vecchio

About Alexandra Vecchio

Mass Audubon's Climate Change Program Coordinator

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon

2020: A Call for Climate Advocates

A new year marks a time for reflection and goal setting. What have we accomplished? What does the future hold? When it comes to the climate crisis, those questions invite some concerning responses.  

We know the last decade alone included eight of the 10 warmest years since measurements began. Hurricanes, wildfires, and extreme flooding have contributed to extraordinary economic loss, not to mention a devastating loss of human and ecological life.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us that we have a limited amount of time to right the ship. All of this while the current Federal administration has completed rollbacks of almost 60 environmental regulations, with dozens more under attack.  

But, we also saw some real progress on climate change in the past decade.  

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon

The Paris Agreement was drafted and signed by almost every country on Earth. Solar energy production increased by about 900 percent between 2010 and 2018 and wind energy is estimated to have tripled. We also witnessed an unprecedented number of youth-led climate strikes, calling on our global leaders to treat the climate crisis as just that — a crisis.  

We ended the decade with higher public acknowledgement of the fact that the planet is warming. Now, it is time for us to turn that knowledge into action. One way to do that is by reducing our transportation emissions – a significant contributor to our warming planet. 

The Transportation Climate Initiative  

The transportation sector is currently responsible for more than 40% of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts and the soot and smog from cars and trucks are major contributors to lung disease and other health problems across the region.  

In order to reduce transportation emissions Massachusetts is joining 12 states and Washington D.C., proposing something called The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI). This ambitious regional initiative can combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and investing in sustainable transportation infrastructure.  

 TCI could drastically change the face of transportation throughout the region by: 

  • developing the clean energy economy 
  • reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector
  • increasing sustainable transportation options 

TCI takes a “cap-and-invest” approach to addressing climate change. It requires local fuel suppliers to purchase allowances for every ton of carbon their fuel would emit when burned. This emissions cap would be brought down over time. The sale of allowances could generate up to $500 million a year for Massachusetts, which would be used to develop cleaner and more efficient transportation options.  

Speak Up for Climate Action  

If we have learned anything from the past decade, it is that we must advocate for climate action with courage, honesty, and urgency like we have never done before. TCI is one of several milestone decisions coming in front of our state and federal legislators in the coming year, and we need you to use your voice and share your support.   

TCI leaders released a draft agreement known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and it is open for public comment. Let decision makers know you are excited to see a high-impact, regional approach to tackling carbon emissions moving forward. Submit comments by February 27, 2020.  

Make no mistake, history books will look back on the 2010s as the decade when the climate crisis became real, tangible, and undoubtedly urgent. How will they describe the 2020s? It’s on us to decide.  


Climate Change: It’s In What You Eat

The food we eat, where it comes from, and what we do with it when we are finished can have a significant impact on an individual’s carbon footprint. According to the USDA, 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from agriculture, but this statistic does not tell the whole story of how our food chain impacts climate change.

Mixed veggies

As our food travels from farms to our tables, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are released every step of the way. You can take some simple steps to help fight climate change simply by the food decisions you make.

Eat Less Meat and Dairy

According to a recent study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, transitioning to a plant-based diet is significantly beneficial for the climate. Dietary changes could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by eight billion tons per year and free up millions of square kilometers of land.

Animal products, such as meat and dairy, contribute to over 80% of total GHG emissions from food consumption, compared to less than 5% from vegetables, fruits or grains. Eating one vegetarian meal per week could save the equivalent of driving over 1,000 miles.  

Look For Food with Fewer Food Miles Attached

Because our modern food chain is globalized, you may find apples from New Zealand and avocados from Mexico in your local supermarket. It is important to consider the carbon footprint of transportation because transportation accounts for 29% of total GHG emissions in the U.S, which is the highest out of any sector. The transportation of food is responsible for 14% of the energy used by the U.S. food system.

To reduce the miles your food travels, try shopping for locally grown and seasonal foods. Visit farmers markets and co-ops, or check labels at the grocery store and opt for domestically grown produce. Our own Drumlin Farm and Moose Hill CSA’s are a great place to start your local food journey.

Buy Less and Buy Strategically

At the end of the food system is food waste, which consumers and food distributors play a major role in. According to the EPA, 31% of the food in the United States is wasted every year, equaling 133 billion pounds of food waste. This contributes to climate change because organic waste in landfill generates methane emissions. The EPA is calling for a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 due to the impact that food waste emissions have on climate change.

Consumers can shop more responsibly to reduce food waste. Try planning your meals ahead of time to avoid buying too much food, and keep an eye on expiration dates. You can keep your food scraps out of landfills by starting a backyard compost pile or bringing your food waste to a community compost site. See our Compost for the Climate blog post for more information.

Pledge To Be a Sustainable Food Consumer

Ready to take action for your health and the health of our planet? Pledge to become a sustainable food consumer and encourage others in your life to do the same. If you’re already vegan or a vegetarian, help create change in your school or workplace by instituting meatless Mondays and encouraging your community to institute sustainable food options at work or community events.

“I pledge to be a sustainable food consumer by reducing the amount of meat and dairy in my diet and encouraging others to do the same. Whenever possible, I will shop locally for my food and will support local farmers and producers.”

Sign the pledge >