Letter: It’s Time To Fund Town’s Climate Action Goals

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The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council, Finance Committee, and Town Manager on November 15, 2022.

We write on behalf of the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance (ACJA), to present our FY23 and FY24 climate action funding and policy requests of the Town Council, Finance Committee, and Town Manager. 

We are pleased that there was funding for sustainability initiatives through ARPA funding for this and next fiscal year. And that $200,000 was budgeted in the FY23 budget for capital projects related to sustainability. Please clarify how the capital funds are being allocated. We request that any unallocated funds be used for the priorities for the current budget cycle that we list below. 

The first of our Town climate action goals is to reach 25% emissions reduction by 2025. That can only be achieved through a concerted effort on the part of the town, including the dedication of additional professional staff to implementing the prioritized parts of the Amherst Climate Action, Adaptation and Resilience Plan (CAARP). 

We do not make our requests in a vacuum. We acknowledge that there are unmet needs of residents who are or will be impacted disproportionately by climate change – needs for affordable housing, school funding (for the arts, paraprofessional staffing, ELL, tech), for full funding for the CRESS program, for a Reparations Fund, etc. Climate justice and racial equity are inextricably intertwined. 

ACJA fully supports intersectional efforts as we advocate for and monitor climate actions involving decarbonization of the building, transportation, electricity, land use and waste sectors. Decarbonization efforts will help the town make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet our town goals. These are the areas in which we make recommendations in the tables below. 

In the two tables below, we lay out our ACJA priorities for actions that are new or underway in the current budget cycle as well as requests for FY24. 

In the first table, “Budget Requests”, we start with the key to all of our other requests: We urgently need to at least double our capacity to accomplish our climate justice goals by hiring an additional full-time professional level staff member. 

What must be done to address the climate emergency far exceeds what one staff person can do. We appreciate our current Director Stephanie Ciccarello’s professional and dedicated work. She does the work of more than one person already. To succeed in meeting our emissions goals, we request another professional level position in her department for the continuity required to seek and manage the many grants that are now available and to implement the prioritized portions of the CAARP.

We also request that $400,000 be budgeted for climate action related capital projects in the FY24 budget. 

The second table is “Policy Priorities”. These actions require no new capital funding, but need to be staffed in order to be accomplished. Hiring an additional, full-time professional position would allow the accomplishment of most of the items in this table. 

We urge you, in budget guidelines and proposals, to take into account that these are not normal times – that due to the climate emergency, priorities and funding need to shift in order to accomplish our very time sensitive climate action goals. 

Amherst Climate Justice Alliance 2022-2024 Budget Requests and Policy Priorities

Amherst Climate Justice Alliance Budget Requests 2022-2024
Amherst Climate Justice Alliance Policy Priorities 2022-2024.

Lydia Vernon Jones 
Julian Hynes

For the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance

Amherst Sunrise 
Climate Action Now, Western Mass 
Extinction Rebellion Western Mass 
First Church Amherst, UCC, Earth Ministry Team
Jewish Community of Amherst Green Team 
Local Energy Advocates of Western Mass 
Mothers Out Front Amherst 
Progressive Coalition of Amherst 
Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst Green Sanctuary Committee 
UMass Sunrise 
Zero Waste Amherst

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2 thoughts on “Letter: It’s Time To Fund Town’s Climate Action Goals

  1. Tree planting is good…..but how about the preservation & protection of existing trees?? If the coming ill-conceived demise of the iconic “Merry Maple” is any indication, Amherst needs to clean up its act in terms of caring for fully grown trees (the ones that capture the most CO2 emissions)

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