The Town of Needham Select Board took a major step forward recently toward addressing our Town’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Last spring, a coalition led by Green Needham, the League of Women Voters – Needham, and Mothers Out Front – Needham approached the Select Board to ask that it prioritize a Climate Action Plan for the Town. In support of that request, the coalition prepared a briefing packet for the Board that explained what climate action plans are, why they’re important, and how developing one would benefit the Town and our planet. The Select Board was receptive, and this summer adopted the development of a Climate Action Plan as one of its goals for the coming year.
More recently, the Select Board voted to create a Climate Action Plan Committee (CAPC) to start this important work. This committee, which will be made up of representatives from other Town boards and committees as well as five members of the public, will develop the plan over the coming months.
In an interview with The Needham Channel, Select Board Vice Chair Marianne Cooley had this to say about the formation of the Climate Action Plan Committee: “It’s clear to us that if we’re going to make progress we need to have an organized plan. We’ve been working for a while and making steady progress at a variety of initiatives, but we can’t tell somebody right now what’s the best thing to do, and so I think having such a plan will be useful for creating a roadmap for us. The real reason for having a climate action plan for Needham is so we can prioritize . . . investments that will need to be made so that the Town can move toward a carbon neutral future.”
The CAPC will provide recommendations to the Select Board to help the Town meet carbon reduction targets outlined by the Massachusetts Climate Roadmap bill that was signed into law in early 2021. The Roadmap bill commits the state to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The state law also sets interim targets, such as achieving a 50% reduction in net carbon emissions by 2030, which underscores the importance of starting as soon as possible.
The Needham Climate Action Plan will provide the roadmap for the Town, but individual investment decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis as those projects are brought up for consideration. Many of these investments will have significant financial benefits to the Town. For example, if we build a school building and don’t spend $100K per year on natural gas because it is running instead of solar panels the Town owns, we can hire more teachers.
The Climate Action Plan will focus on the areas where the Town can have the biggest impact, which includes converting our electricity supply to renewable energy, decarbonizing our transportation sector, and electrifying the heating and cooling in homes and buildings.
The Climate Action Plan will also help guide the Town through an equitable transition to a net zero future that benefits all, including those who have historically borne the brunt of climate change while being left out of the green economy.
To find out more about the Climate Action Plan Committee and how to apply, see the Town’s website.
For more information on the Town’s Climate Action Plan, watch the two-part series aired on The Needham Channel: