by Lydia Vernon-Jones and Julian Hynes
The following public comment was submitted in writing to the Government, Organization and Legislation Committee for their meeting on November 30, 2022.
We write on behalf of the Amherst Climate Justice Coalition (ACJA) to recommend 2023 climate action goals for the Town Manager.
The goals we recommend are a companion to the budget and policy initiatives we submitted to the Town Council on November 14, urging the acceleration of climate action in Amherst.
First, we ask that the Town Council expect the Manager to complete his 2022 goals. (The text of the 2022 goals are in italics below, followed by the specific actions needed in 2023).
2022 Town Manager Goal – To prioritize and implement regulatory, fiscal, and other actions to meet the Climate Action Goals adopted by the Council on November 18, 2019 by:
(1) making substantial progress on implementing Community Choice Aggregation,
ACJA recommendation – Accelerate the creation of a Joint Powers Entity and the submission of the Community Choice Aggregation application to the Department of Public Utilities, completing this as early as possible in 2023.
(2) implementing the portions of the Climate Action, Adaptation, and Resilience Plan that have been prioritized to start in FY2022 and FY2023,
ACJA recommendation – Provide a 3 year plan that indicates in which year each of the actions in the CAARP related to the 2025 goals will be initiated and the year in which completion of each action is projected.
(3) ensuring that budgeting, purchasing, construction, repair, hiring, and other decisions involve considerations of energy, climate action, and resilience in order to determine greenhouse gas emissions impacts of energy use and move Amherst towards meeting the Climate Action Goals,
ACJA recommendation – Expand current policy for applying a climate lens beyond purchasing to the additional areas listed above. Make the policy and data collected publicly accessible.
(4) educating Town multiple-member bodies and staff on how to apply a climate lens in decisions-making in order to advance the Climate Action emission reduction goals,
ACJA recommendation – Accelerate the training of Town multiple-member bodies and staff on how to apply a climate lens in decision-making in order to advance the Climate Action emission reduction goals. Make the policy and data collected publicly accessible.
5) including in the Capital Inventory (Charter Sec. 5.7(a)) a timeline for the transition of municipal buildings, vehicles, and equipment from the use of fossil fuels,
ACJA recommendation – This timeline should show year by year the plan for a full transition, starting with the buildings, vehicles and HVAC systems to be transitioned in FY23 and FY24.
(6) reporting on the progress made towards meeting the 2025 interim Climate Action Goals.
ACJA recommendation – This reporting should occur quarterly and should include not just actions taken, but also the amount of progress achieved toward meeting the 2025 Interim Climate Action Goals. It should also include reporting expenditures regularly to ECAC and the Town Council of the $200,000 earmarked for sustainability in FY23 and of funds earmarked for sustainability in FY24.
For FY 23/24, we recommend the following climate actions also be prioritized by including them in the 2023 Town Manager Goals: (These were also noted in our earlier budget and policy priority requests.)
Implement town-contracted refuse and recycling, including universal curbside compost pick up.
Prioritize tree planting in working class and BIPOC neighborhoods; add an additional $40,000 for tree planting.
Develop new bike lanes and renovate existing bike lanes.
Advocate to increase the number of PVTA routes and other methods of public transportation.
Analyze the feasibility of a town-wide initiative for net zero retrofits of all existing private and public buildings, similar to the Ithaca model.
Work with property owners using C-PACE to accelerate multifamily/apartment complex retrofits without displacement and with a climate justice lens.
Provide information and resources to residential property owners for full energy retrofits (ARPA funds are allocated for a heat pump program only).
Research investment in and/or innovative financing for locally sourced, owned and controlled renewable energy.
ACHIEVING RESIDENT AND BUSINESS BUY IN
Achieve robust resident participation in the creation of the climate dashboard for townwide climate action campaign.
These goals are only a small portion of those actions planned for in the CAARP, but are high priority, emissions reducing goals. Their accomplishment requires additional professional level staff and meeting the climate challenge requires making this type of commitment. Meeting the Town’s climate action goals and implementing the CAARP will also require the doubling of the capital budget for sustainability for FY24 in order to, at a minimum, accelerate the electrification of our fleet and buildings.
Thank you very much for your consideration of these recommendations for 2023 Town Manager Climate Action goals.
For the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance
Climate Action Now, Western Mass
Extinction Rebellion Western Mass
First Congregational Church Amherst
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
Zero Waste Amherst