“Climate Change Action at the Local Level”
Hon. Sandra L. Frankel
Former Supervisor, Town of Brighton
Because clean water and air are essential for life, the public trust demands that our elected officials commit to environmental sustainability. Citizens also hold the trust of future generations in their hands, with responsibility to protect and preserve a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren. Global warming is real, and the effects of climate change observed in the 20th century appear to be due in part to man-made greenhouse-gas emissions—an increase in the earth’s temperature, melting arctic icecaps, rising sea levels, more severe and frequent storms (think Katrina and Sandy), floods, droughts that plague the country (New Mexico, California). These changes may not have a major effect on Monroe County in the short term, they will in the long run because of impacts on lives, property, and the economy. We all have a stake and can play a part in stemming the tide through grassroots advocacy and action.
What can local and regional governments, schools, businesses, and residents in our communities do? Plenty. Establish a steering committee with broad-based representation of community stakeholders and experts to establish goals and develop a plan that will empower and encourage local government, residents, businesses, and institutions to use resources efficiently, with an eye towards long-term sustainability and stewardship of our local and global environment.
Determine the highest areas of energy consumption. Adopt the recommendations, develop a budget plan for implementation, and establish a standing committee, the Sustainability Oversight Committee, to monitor progress and advise on energy saving technology and products.
Here are some concrete examples of municipal and community energy savings that promote clean air and water include the following: