PERLOE: Time is Now for Selectmen to Approve Climate Resolution

Submitted by Jonathan Perloe, Cos Cob

To the Editor,

At this week’s Board of Selectpersons meeting on Thursday, August 11, the Board will consider a resolution to declare the Town’s “commitment to advance sustainability and climate resiliency.”

The timing could not be more perfect, coming as it does days after Senate Democrats passed legislation with unprecedented investments to mitigate climate change.

Climate change is an emergency, and issuing this resolution creates the accountability we need to ensure the Town of Greenwich is treating it with the urgency it requires. If you agree, please contact the Board of Selectpersons ahead of Thursday’s meeting and urge them to approve the resolution put forward by the Greenwich Environmental Advocacy Group (and not the weaker alternate resolution from BET member Harry Fisher). 

The group, led by recent Greenwich High School graduate Isabelle Harper, has gone to great lengths to incorporate feedback from a range of perspectives, including those who were uncomfortable calling climate change an “emergency.” The resulting resolution is substantive, and commits the Town to developing an action plan by December 2023.

The strength of the resolution doesn’t depend on declaring climate change an emergency, yet the reticence of some to use that language is concerning. Climate change is indeed an emergency, recognized as such by scientists, organizations, governmental entities, and citizens across the globe.

More than 2,250 localities worldwide have issued climate emergency declarations, representing more than 1 billion people, including 184 in the United States.

Pope Francis declared a global “climate emergency” in 2019, warning that a failure to act urgently to reduce greenhouse gases would be “a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations.” 

Greenwich would be in good company by declaring climate change an “emergency.” According to a UN survey of 1.2 million people in 2021, two-thirds of the world’s people think climate change is a “global emergency.” The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication recently reported that 58% of U.S. adults support a U.S. president declaring global warming a “national emergency” if Congress does not act, which fortunately Senate Democrats just did, over the united opposition of all 50 Senate Republicans.

The time is now for the Greenwich Board of Selectpersons to show the leadership our Town is capable of, declaring to our residents, the state and the nation that we are collectively committed to taking action needed to address the climate change emergency, (we just won’t call it one). 

Jonathan Perloe, Cos Cob
The writer is a member of the Greenwich Representative Town Meeting