Submitted by Renu Bostwick
“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” – Gov. Jay Inslee (WA)
Combating climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times. I urge you all to come learn about Net Zero planning for Bedford and hear what Cambridge, Lexington, and Concord have been doing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions! The public forum on Oct 4th in the Town Hall Multipurpose Room at 7:00 pm is hosted by the Bedford Energy Task Force and Bedford Mothers Out Front. It will help us prepare for Special Town Meeting on November 6th, where we will have an opportunity to vote on an article which provides funds for Net Zero Planning for Bedford. The article is entitled “Bedford’s Energy Assessment and Action Plan”.
Net Zero Planning
Net Zero Planning is a way for us, together as a town, to make measurable progress towards reducing our community’s greenhouse gases. Although impractical for each of us to have zero emissions in the near term, we can work together over the next several decades as a town towards net zero emissions. The goal is to eventually replace our fossil fuel use (municipal, commercial, and residential) with an equal amount of clean energy production, whether produced locally or purchased from nearby sources.
The principles of Net Zero policies are (1) Reduce, (2) Produce, (3) Purchase. A Net Zero Plan would help us to reduce our energy consumption with efficiency initiatives, followed by policies and initiatives that would increase the amount of renewables produced in Bedford, followed by purchasing enough renewably sourced energy to make up the rest of what we cannot produce. Although Net Zero Plans could cover all sources of our emissions (namely, our gasoline cars, the fuel with which we heat our buildings, and the fuel used to generate our electricity), in practice other towns have often started by focusing on buildings, since it is an easier problem to address than the others.
We Can Reap Benefits From Good Planning
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions also reduces other harmful particulates in the air and has important health benefits for asthma sufferers, as well as for brain function in children and adults. Studies have shown that the savings in healthcare costs make up for the cost of the reduction strategies. As we get closer to the milestones of the Global Warming Solutions Act state law that requires Massachusetts to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050, towns are likely to see regulations that will require us to make changes. Starting on reduction strategies now will allow us to make thoughtful and deliberate changes that will help Bedford as a whole while also doing our part to reduce climate change.
We Can Help Ourselves and Other Communities
The fossil fuels we use in Bedford affect the climate, and we see it in more dangerous storms, more extreme changes in weather, more droughts, more floods, more wildfires. We are not insulated from the effects that happen far from our sight. As more places in the world are ravaged by weather catastrophes, we use our resources to help as best as we can. It is fiscally prudent for us to use some of our resources to try to prevent the worst of climate change and not just react to the disasters.
We Are Contributing to Our Children’s Future Climate
Carbon dioxide, once in the atmosphere, stays in the atmosphere and traps heat, warming the earth’s atmosphere and drastically changing our climate for hundreds of years. Some of the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for even thousands of years. Our gasoline cars, the fuel with which we heat our buildings, and the fuel used to generate our electricity are all contributing to the climate chaos that our children will inherit. We must make the changes now needed to stabilize the climate.
The quote at the top by the Governor of Washington state sums up why I am committed to doing all that I can to combat climate change for the future of all children: our generation has an obligation to do all we can to turn this problem around. Now that we know that humans are putting more heat trapping greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere than natural processes can absorb, we must take action. Now that we know that what we do here in Bedford affects other communities — in Louisiana, in Houston, in Florida, in Puerto Rico, in Bangladesh — we must take action.
Although Net Zero Planning is often a difficult concept to wrap our minds around, hearing the specific experiences of other towns will help us learn how a Net Zero Plan might be tailored for the unique characteristics of Bedford. Let’s take action together: come to the Town Hall Multipurpose Room at 7:00 pm on Oct 4th to learn more!