Current Board of Selectmen member and past Natural Resources Commission member Lise Olney proposed this week that Wellesley resolve to address the “climate emergency” facing the town (and beyond). It’s a chance for the Board of Selectmen and town government to make a bold leadership move, she says.
Acknowledging that the proposal is coming rather late in the process to fill out the warrant to be discussed at Town Meeting in the Spring, Olney said she “felt compelled to offer it for your consideration because of a mounting sense of urgency I’m hearing and I’m certainly feeling myself” in light of one dire report after another about the environment being released.
She emphasized that the resolution would not be a commentary on the many positive efforts taken by and in the town to address greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
“This language of ‘climate emergency’ I think is really helpful because it accurately describes the situation that we’re facing,” Olney says. “It offers Town Meeting an opportunity to take collective responsibility for making a focused statement on what kind of action we think is necessary to address this emergency.” It doesn’t obligate the town to take any specific actions, however, she adds.
Olney says she was inspired to word the resolution as she did because the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has called upon communities to make declarations of climate emergency, and Amherst and Worcester have already done so. (Wellesley Township in Ontario has also declared it is facing a climate emergency, by the way.)
Dozens of medical associations have also urged such actions, Olney says. What’s more, residents have spoken up, including those who attended a climate rally at Town Hall in September. Olney argues that the term “climate emergency” is not controversial, and has been used by the United Nations, European Union and others.
More than half a dozen Wellesley residents spoke on the subject, including a couple of middle school students, one of whom urged action “before getting to a point of no return.”
Scott Bender, who has served on Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee and supports putting a climate emergency or urgency article on the warrant, says many residents and businesses in town aren’t aware that Wellesley already has a greenhouse gas reduction goal “and that our progress has been stuck for about 5 years.” He asked: “When does it become a priority?”
The Board of Selectmen agreed that putting an article on the warrant is a good idea, but still needs to sort out the right language. BoS member Beth Sullivan Woods would like to see a certain level of “concreteness” in the wording, so that the community is clear on what actions need to be taken. She suggested, for example, that building content into the school curriculum could have big payoffs down the road since “children drive behavioral change.”
Update: A few days after the BoS meeting, the Natural Resources Commission approved a motion on declaring a Climate Emergency independent of the Selectmen.
Mike P says
Can we please not do this nonsense? What particular aspect of climate change is affecting the town, and what exactly do you think we can do about it?
This has “Meaningless well meant expensive gesture” written all over it.
I am fine with it, only if:
1. If you guarantee, in writing, that you will not spend town funds(my tax money)
2. Guarantee, in writing, that you will not start creating new building codes and requirements for homeowners.
water heater can’t be more than x feet from the furthest faucet”, for example (YES, this is a thing, no matter how stupid”
We will not allow new nat gas connections (this has happened too)
3. Put into the resolution a stipulation that you realize that Bill Nye is indeed not an actual scientist.
4. A stipulation that we in Wellesley realize that a very small town has no more power to affect climate or climate change than a near sighted gerbil in Boise, Idaho.
Agree, if only more of our fellow Wellesley residents will pay attention and realize that we actually will get to a point of no return after these loonies try to take over every industry starting from the government
Mike Gigante says
The loonies are already here and, unfortunately, they group together and vote these things in such as the demolition bylaw review which clearly adversely affects the seniors in our town.
Michael Tobin says
The NRC approved a motion on declaring a Climate Emergency independent of the Selectmen at the NRC December 19 meeting.
Hi Michael, thanks for letting us know, will add to post, Bob
Good One NRC. ”
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Start with trees.
Literally two days ago the swellesley report posted an article about the MBTA continuing to cut down trees in town even after having already removed hundreds last year. And not a day goes by without more mature trees being cut down for new construction and other development, like the recent 40B on Great Plain Ave. Planting baby trees is a good start but their volume, size, and environmental contribution don’t come close to replacing what was so shortsightedly taken away.
Karim Sahyoun says
Can we please do this and stop treating climate change as nonsense? Can we make sure that each citizen in this town understands exactly what their carbon footprint is and how they can reduce it? Can we start by asking the arborist at Hartney Greymont to identify the shocking number of trees that are dying in our town due to the change in climate? Can we then start with concrete steps such as quintupling the fines for those high school students parked illegally on Washington Street next to Hunnewell fields? Can we follow that up with more concrete steps such as increasing the yearly excise tax on vehicles with big engines and homes that are poorly insulated?
So stupid..really this State gets colder and colder every year. I see no increase in temps in the winter months. I cannot wait to move to a warmer State and get out of this over-built, greedy, expensive Town that gives nothing to it’s residents for free,,can’t even use the Town Beach for free..you have to pay for this pay for that everywhere here. They are griping for climate control? Ha! As long as they keep building up this Town with bigger and bigger houses and houses that are getting additions put on left and right with very little property ,,you basically just look at another house from your home now with no views of anything, it is getting pretty pathetic to live here anyway..and it will always be cold in the winter,,not to worry! The summers are also getting cooler and cooler and rainier so not to worry there either. 12 weeks of warm weather out of the whole year?? No thank you!!!!
John McClain says
Maybe start small…. I don’t know??.. How about every student in town take the bus?? Meaning the high school parking lot empty and every elementary school not have miles of idling cars waiting to pick up students. Just a thought
“BoS member Beth Sullivan Woods would like to see a certain level of “concreteness” in the wording, so that the community is clear on what actions need to be taken. She suggested, for example, that building content into the school curriculum could have big payoffs down the road since “children drive behavioral change.”
Sort of like the “It’s Elementary” initiative where the schools take it upon themselves to indoctrinate the thoughts of our children.
Peter Watson says
Please notice the self serving “Me,Me,Me” basis of many of these negative comments. Where is the consideration for the disadvantaged peoples of the world who are adversely affected by the habits and choices of wealthy, privileged people living in Wellesley who refuse to accept the reality of the climate crisis and refuse to acknowledge that there are things they can do about it!