Letter to City/County from Schools on Climate

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March 17th, 2019


Dear City Councilors and County Supervisors:

As educators and leaders of independent schools in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area, we have a unique perspective on the issue of a climate change.

Everyday we witness young people turning concern into action on this issue. They have an important role to play in climate solutions for our community and are a strong force for change. We are working collectively to promote a more environmentally sustainable “now” and “future” for our students, staff, and the larger community.

So thank you for taking up the important task of setting new community climate goals for the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and for recognizing the need to develop comprehensive Climate Action Plans to ensure we reach those goals!

The current climate action planning process presents the perfect opportunity to work with all members of our community to advance our common goals and establish the Charlottesville-Albemarle area as a leader in this 21st century challenge.  We welcome the opportunity to marshall the energy, creativity, and passion of our community’s young people.

Setting an ambitious greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction goal will be a catalyst for the level of community partnership needed. As schools, we value climate leadership for a number of important reasons:

●      Our students and their families care and want government to lead on this issue. Studies consistently report that a majority of Americans want to prioritize climate solutions, and according to the 2018 Yale Climate Opinion map, the majority of Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents feel that the government, corporations, and citizens should do more to address climate impacts.

●      We are all in this together. The health and well-being of Charlottesville-area young people and their families is of the utmost importance! We want to be proud of the community we call home and make sure it is leading the way on this issue.  

●      Climate leadership is vital to our community’s health. A recent NRDC report on the health impacts of climate change in Virginia reports that our community will face increased rates of asthma and heat-related illnesses, as well as water and food contamination.  While climate change impacts all of us, low-income families, children, and the elderly are members of our community who feel the effects to an even greater extent.

●      Clean energy and energy efficiency are stimulating an energy revolution Advancements in green technologies enable schools to reduce cost, mitigate cost variability risk, and increase energy independence.

Therefore, we urge the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County to do the following:

  1. Establish a best-in-class climate goal of: (a) reducing our year 2010 baseline greenhouse gas emissions 45% by the year 2030; and (b) achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
    This goal is aligned with the overarching goal in the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2018 report of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is what the world’s preeminent climate scientists tell us is needed to avoid the most harmful consequences of climate change.  The City and County’s current emissions reduction goals lag conspicuously behind our peer communities in the region and throughout the Commonwealth. By selecting a goal in line with the IPCC’s 2018 report, the City and County will embrace the mantle of leadership. 

  2. Commit to conducting a greenhouse gas inventory every two years.
    Regular inventories are absolutely critical. Looking back, the City conducted inventories of 2000, 2011, and most recently, 2016. The County’s last inventory was of 2008 emissions. We only have eleven years to reach a 45% reduction, so we must work diligently. Frequent and regular measurement of our progress is necessary to ensure we are pursuing effective strategies and keeping climate action a focus of our community.

Thank you again for recognizing the need to address this important issue. In summary, we encourage you to establish a bold, leadership-level community goal and require measurement every two years for the health and vitality of Charlottesville and Albemarle County and for our children’s future. We look forward to working with City and County leaders to move our entire community forward.

Should you have questions please contact Susan Kruse at the Charlottesville Climate Collaborative, 434-284-0870, or


Members of Charlottesville and Albemarle County Independent Schools


CC: Mike Murphy, City Manager, City of Charlottesville

      Jeff Richardson, County Executive, County of Albemarle

If you’re interested in signing onto the letter or have questions, please email Susan Kruse at