Thursday morning’s Selectmen meeting featured a rescheduled second read of what was originally a “Climate Emergency Resolution.” It was drafted by a group of students, led by Isabelle Harper, GHS class of 2022.
The second read and vote was supposed to have taken place at the July 19 meeting.
At that meeting there was push back on the word “emergency.”
Public comment at that meeting focused on the idea of high school students being required to take the school bus to GHS.
Since then, a meeting was held on July 21, at the First Selectman’s request. It was attended by leaders from several town boards and commissions, including P&Z and BET.
The resolution was revised, the word “emergency” deleted, and many tweaks made.
The resolution was renamed “Sustainability and Resiliency Plan.”
Ms Harper submitted the revised resolution to the First Selectman on Sunday, July 24.
Then, on Wednesday, July 27, the day before the Selectmen meeting, Harry Fisher, a BET member and Energy Advisory Committee member, submitted an alternate resolution. Mr. Fisher said he had drafted the alternate resolution as a private citizen.
The two other selectmen had not read the alternate resolution before the meeting.
First Selectman Fred Camillo said he had reviewed Fisher’s resolution the previous night.
“Some of the things I liked,” he said. “Some of the things I preferred in the original version.”
Camillo talked about the possibility of doing a timeline to move the town’s fleet of trucks to electric.
“I did my homework too. I talked to Jay Domeseck, the town fleet director, got some real numbers,” Camillo added, saying he had asked Domeseck if the town’s fleet could achieve 25% electric by 2028.
“He said, ‘Fred I’d do it in a second, but the technology is not there,’ because in a snow storm or weather event they need to keep the trucks running and they can’t afford to leave trucks charging for an hour.”
Camillo said he did put in requests for two electric cars for the town’s fleet, though the Board of Estimate and Taxation cut one.
He also said he learned that 35% of the town fleet trucks were powered by propane, which he said was very good.
During public comment, Julie DesChamps spoke in favor of the resolution originated by the students.
“Just yesterday there was an air quality alert for elevated ozone and particle pollution in Fairfield County,” DesChamps said. “A heat wave last week necessitated the opening of cooling stations. There are streets and basements of homes and schools flooded with water and sewage. Beach closures due to high bacterial counts. An uptick in mosquito borne diseases. Trees devastated by disease. As temperatures continue to climb in Greenwich, these effects will only grow in frequency and intensity. Climate change is here and now.”
DesChamps said compared to Greenwich, other towns were ahead of the curve.
“Where is our climate action plan?” she asked. “Where are our goals to mitigate carbon emissions?”
“A willy-nilly, uncoordinated approach doesn’t cut it,” she added. “And we need to go way beyond mandating that our students take the school bus.”
“The debate around this resolution is marred by hubris and climate change denial,” DesChamps continued. “It’s a slap in the face to our youth who inherit these problems and are asking for climate action now and an acknowledgement that climate change is real and a crisis.”
DesChamps said according to a University Chicago poll only 13% of Americans were climate deniers.
Myra Klockenbrink, the process mentor for the students who working on the resolution, commented on Mr. Fisher’s resolution.
“I find that having a new resolution brought up at the 11th hour at a meeting like this is unfair to the process, and should not have happened,” she said. “We’ve had an open, honest process and we would like this final resolution that will be voted on in two weeks to be open and honest as well.”
“I take exception to that,” Mr. Camillo said. “It’s been open and honest.”
“I’m saying that we have been honest and open,” Klockenbrink said.
“The inference was there. I take offense to that,” Camillo said.
Mr. Camillo said an RTM member had made a false statement in a letter to the editor.
“I resent some adults making this political,” Camillo said.
Mr. Fisher, the author of the alternate resolution, said he objected to the term “climate denier.”
“I believe that climate has been changing for thousands, hundreds of years,” Mr. Fisher said. “The real question on the table is, how can we ever quantify the impact of humans?”
“Surely humans are going to have some impact, but the narrative out that it’s all humans’ fault is really not justified,” Mr. Fisher said.
“I think it’s also important not to conflate weather and climate,” Fisher continued. “Last week’s weather was just weather. Hurricanes are just weather events.”
“There’s a lot of noise from the media about weather events, the hot temperatures,” he added.
“I’m sorry my effort was last minute, but I didn’t get resolutions until the 24th or 26th,” Fisher said. “I really felt that an alternative resolution was called for.”
Isabelle Harper apologized for submitting the last version of the resolution on July 24, but she explained “people on all sides were included” and the result was a comprehensive and bi-partisan document.
“I think no municipality, no matter how sheltered they might be, is immune to the impacts of climate change and that is so important to make any sustainability and climate action plan,” Isabelle said. “I like that everybody is here, no matter what your ideology or what you think on climate change. Everyone is in this room and contributing.”
Andrew Winston said he worked with multi-national corporations and wanted to add perspective from the private sector.
“There is not a large company in the world that is debating this. The perspective we heard earlier on climate versus weather is really not on the spectrum of scientific consensus,” Winston said. “It is not remotely in line with what all major corporations support today.”
“The technologies for moving the town and moving a company toward sustainability have gotten radically cheaper in the last decade,” Mr. Winston continued. “Renewables, batteries and many others are down 70 to 90%.”
He said FedEx has plans in the next few years were to make half their vehicle purchases to be electric, and by 2030 they will only buy EVs, and by 2040 they will only drive EVs.
Winston said it was fiscally irresponsible for Greenwich not to take action.
“Our costs will be lower in town. Air quality will be better and we’re going to build more resilience in the face of increasingly extreme weather which there will be,” he said.
Mr. Camillo said he was very encouraged overall, and that the Selectmen would vote on the resolution in two weeks.
He said he was encouraged, and that because of the resolution, the issue was “front and center.”
A special Selectmen meeting featuring the climate resolution was added to the town website:
The meeting will be held on Zoom, Tuesday, Aug 2 at 10:00am.
Resolution Declaring Greenwich’s Commitment to Advance Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, dated July 24, 2022
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich has experienced extreme weather events, including severe storms, drought, and intense heat, which have resulted in increased risks to public health and safety due to an urban heat island effect, loss of power and basic utilities, high riverine floodwaters, inland and coastal flooding; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich is a coastal community and is vulnerable to damage by rising sea levels, hurricanes and storm surges, such as Hurricane Ida in September 2021(1); and
WHEREAS, the state of Connecticut’s average annual air temperature has warmed 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century(2); and higher temperatures have a direct impact on air quality and people’s health, triggering heat-related illness, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory disorders and the higher probability of mortality; and
WHEREAS, there have been 14 extreme weather events in, the state of Connecticut since 2012, including Ida,which caused an estimated $16 to $24 billion in flooding damage in the Northeastern United States,making it the costliest storm to hit the region since Hurricane Sandy in 20123, with an estimated $44 billion in insured loss (4); and
WHEREAS, near-neighbor Bridgeport has currently experienced six inches of sea level rise since 1965, which is higher than current global rates. Predictions by CIRCA show Connecticut sea level rise could increase 1.5 feet by 2050 and up to 3 feet by 2100, based on the level of action taken today to reduce carbon emissions (5). Portions of coastal communities and sections of I-95, rail lines, and local airports are expected to experience tidal flooding, without storm action, due to increased sea levels(1); and
WHEREAS, vulnerable communities in Connecticut and around the United States have disproportionately suffered detriments to their health and quality of life from climate-related impacts and are at greatest risk of the effects of climate change (6); and
WHEREAS, scientists project that extreme weather events will increase in frequency and intensity in the coming years and have stated that emissions from human activity are the greatest driver of the climate change impacts experienced today, that average global temperature increases be maintained to1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 Fahrenheit] from pre-industrial levels to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of a changing climate, and that all strategies need to be pursued to achieve a rapid drop in carbon emissions: and
WHEREAS, local communities play a crucial role in addressing climate change as they are on the frontlines of its consequences and their actions can have a measurable impact on the region; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that the Town of Greenwich recognize and continue to address the challenges presented by a rapidly changing climate.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE GREENWICH BOARD OF SELECTMEN declares:
- The existence of a rapidly changing climate, which threatens the future of our natural world upon which our community, region and country rely; and
- that it shall be the policy of the Town of Greenwich that, taking into account other Town priorities and policies, all Town department heads shall consider ways to advance sustainability and climate resiliency whenever they develop future departmental priorities, policies, plans, budgets and actions, and that the Board of Selectmen hereby encourages other Town committees and commissions to do the same; and
- that the Town of Greenwich sets forth the following goals: the development of a Sustainability and Climate Resiliency Plan by December 2023 that shall include strategies in the areas of new buildings, energy efficiency, transportation, renewable energy, solid waste, water and waste water. land use, natural systems and the Town operations, to move Greenwich toward carbon neutrality and increase community resilience to a changing climate; and
- that the Greenwich Board of Selectmen aim to reduce by 45% greenhouse gas emissions generated by municipal facilities, buildings and vehicles below the 2001 level of such emissions by January 1, 2030 and by 80% below the 2001 level by January 1, 2050, consistent with CT Public Act No. 22-5 adopted May 10, 2022. (Should the 2001 level of Town emissions not be available, the starting level would be earliest subsequent year it is available.); and
- that the Town of Greenwich will advocate for coordinated climate action at the regional, municipal and local levels to restore a safe and sustainable climate for all living beings on Earth
Adopted this ____ day of _______, 2022
Harry Fisher Resolution, dated July 27, 2022
Resolution Declaring Greenwich’s Commitment to Advance Sustainability and Climate Resiliency
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich has experienced severe weather events, including harsh storms, drought, and intense heat, which can result in increased risks to public health and safety, loss of power and basic utilities, high riverine floodwaters, inland and coastal flooding, and property damage; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich is a coastal community and can be vulnerable to damage by rising sea levels, hurricanes and storm surges, such as occurred with the remnant of Hurricane Ida in September 20211; and
WHEREAS, according to the Connecticut State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the state of Connecticut’s average annual air temperature has warmed 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century (2); and
WHEREAS, according to DEEP, there have been 14 extreme weather events in the state of Connecticut since 2012, including Ida, which caused an estimated $16 to $24 billion in flooding damage in the Northeastern United States, making it the costliest storm to hit the region since Hurricane Sandy in 2012(3), with a total estimated $44 billion in insured loss (4); and
WHEREAS, there are numerous national and international reports and panels that have studied the effect of climate changes on ecosystems and humans, including but not limited to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the DEEP; and
WHEREAS, according to the EPA climate changes are projected to increase the frequency and intensity of storms in all regions of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the EPA has established a Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center; and
WHEREAS, the EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center is available to assist municipalities in determining strategies for adapting to the potential impacts of climate changes, including, but not limited to, the impact of drought, storms and flooding; and
WHEREAS, other municipalities in Connecticut have taken advantage of EPA resources for studying climate changes; and
WHEREAS, local communities play a crucial role in addressing potential impacts of climate changes, and local actions can have a measurable impact in their community and surrounding area; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich recognizes and continue to address the challenges presented by climate changes.
NOW THEREFORE, in recognition that climate changes may impact town infrastructure and other town resources, IT IS RESOLVED that the Town of Greenwich continue to develop town wide strategies and recommendations to enable the Town to effectively adapt to the potential impacts of climate changes, including, but not limited to the impact of drought, severe storms and flooding.
Adopted this day of ____, 2022