It’s an ambitious goal: Westport wants to be “net zero” by 2050.
By mid-century we hope to produce or purchase as much renewable energy as we use; minimize energy use in the first place through efficiency measures, and handle our water and waste in sustainable, resilient ways.
Westport’s Green Task Force leads the charge. It’s a local response to a global problem.
That approach fits perfectly with the life Peter Boyd leads.
Formerly the COO of the Carbon War Room — helping businesses reduce carbon emissions at the gigaton scale — last fall Boyd advised a non-profit group of business leaders on their net-zero initiative leading up to the Paris Climate Conference.
He just launched a consulting firm called Time4Good, and serves as an executive fellow at Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment.
But he’s also a Scotsman who — after living in South Africa, London and Washington DC — moved to Westport 2 years ago, with his wife and 6-week-old baby.
Almost immediately, Boyd joined the Green Task Force. Earthplace tapped him for its board of trustees.
Boyd believes that local actions can have enormous impacts on our beleaguered planet.
“We’re raising our family here,” he says. “2050 is not far away. I’ll be 70. My kids will be early- to middle-age. They’ll make life choices then the same way I do now.”
As he looks around Westport — his new home town — Boyd sees big houses, big cars, and people driving 50 yards down the road to meet their children’s buses (which stop less than every 50 yards).
But he also sees “opportunities to make better quality-of-life choices.”
One example: electric vehicles.
A fleet of them drove by after his recent Green Day talk at the Westport Library.
“They’re better cars than what we have now, and they’re more fun to drive,” Boyd says.
“(Second selectman) Avi Kaner’s Tesla is fast and sexy. It’s a car you can really show off.”
Boyd notes, “I don’t have a Tesla budget. But my Prius is incredibly cheap to lease.”
That’s the “secret to a lot of climate change choices,” Boyd says. “Doing things better than before, so we can have a quieter, less polluted town.”
Another example: Boyd sees Westport homeowners install geothermal and solar systems. Their electric bills are “tiny,” he says — “and they’ve got clean, wonderful homes.” Weatherizing and insulating also pays enormous dividends.
He stresses that NetZero 2050 is not about “moving to communal houses and taking all public transport.” Rather, it involves working at the town level, in personal ways.
He says passionately, “They’re way more impactful than we think.”