By Grace Giannatsis
FRAMINGHAM – A proposed resolution declaring a climate emergency in Framingham now heads to the 11-member City Council for a vote.
Earlier this month, the City Council’s Environmental and Sustainability subcommittee and the Framingham Sustainability Committee held a joint meeting to discuss the proposed non-binding resolution.
Sustainability Committee member Emma Rothwell, who just graduated from Framingham High this month, made her case to the two committees on why this emergency declaration is so important now.
“The first step in solving any problem is to name it,” said Rothwell, “so with the climate emergency declaration you’re acknowledging, the government is acknowledging the existence and severity of climate change.”
A survey conducted with Framingham residents in the spring of 2022 indicated residents are very concerned about the environment and would support documents that would help reduce their
impact on the environment.
It is unknown how many individuals participated in the survey. Framingham has more than 70,000 residents.
But the survey showed:
- 82% of respondents said they’re VERY concerned about climate change
- 58% said they didn’t think Framingham is doing enough to combat climate change
- Another 28% said they didn’t know what Framingham was doing
“We want to kind of be able to put measures forward where we can actually make a difference” said City Council Environment & Sustainability Subcommittee Chair Janet Leombruno.
Framingham would not be the first Massachusetts city or town to declare a climate emergency, explained Rothwell, who was president of Framingham High’s environmental club.
Rothwell said about two dozen communities have already declared a climate emergency. See the list of communities below.
The Town of Acton, who declared a climate emergency in 2020, has since made progress on a climate action plan, said Rothwell.
A declaration of climate emergency will help to shift the public’s mindset to an active rather than
passive view on what can be done about the issue, pressed the Sustainability Committee members.
“Massachusetts has set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 & achieve net zero by 2050. Therefore, the FSC recommends the following: The Mayor & City Council declare a climate emergency in order to prioritize resources to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing our vulnerabilities & preparing our community to be resilient when the next natural disaster strikes. A community-wide climate action plan be funded & a draft completed for public comment,” noted the presentation to the subcommittee on June 13.
“We need to reach out into our community and I think this is an excellent tool for doing that,” said Sustainability Committee Chair Larry Stoodt.
The effective simplicity of the current emergency declaration draft was also praised by Sustainability Coordinator Shawn Lutz. “You want that widely available to residents across the city where we have a lot of different languages that are spoken,” he said.
Sustainability Committee Donna Kramer Merritt said “This heartfelt desire to create this emergency declaration came through Emma and so if this is a passion and a sense of urgency that she is particularly feeling this unbelievable value to then I think it speaks volumes to how important this really is to the impacts of climate change.”
The Resolution calls for the City’s legislative (City Council) and executive (Mayor) branches of government to:
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Framingham’ s climate mobilization should also: (1)
accelerate adaptation and resilience strategies in preparation for intensifying local and global climate
impacts; (2) ensure that the costs of such mobilization efforts do not unfairly burden those who are
economically or socially disadvantaged and that the benefits of a realized, sustainable future accrue to all; 3) continue to protect trees, forests, soil, and other open spaces because of their ability to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it; and (4) protect the habitats and corridors of wildlife that are vulnerable.”
The full text of the resolution is below.
The City Council has it on its very long agenda for Tuesday night, June 21. The public can attend in person at the Blumer Room in the Memorial Building or watch via Zoom or on Facebook live.
Grace Giannatsis is a SOURCE summer intern. She is a 2022 Hofstra University graduate where she majored in Journalism and minored in Writing Studies. She enjoys covering local charities, live performances and road races and aspires to have a career in photojournalism. In her free time she likes to run, hike, camp and bake and these days can often be found reading in her back garden accompanied by an iced coffee.