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GDT Column: TownGreen|2025 calls for a zero carbon future

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The bills for the damage caused by climate change are arriving now for all of us to see. The costs are no longer theoretical. Costs and damage due to climate change will only get worse in the foreseeable future unless we undertake major actions in our community, our state, our nation and across the world.

Our unprecedented recent season of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes, multiple strong nor’easters and associated flooding, sea level rise, and continued global temperature increase is affecting many areas in the United States. If not addressed, climate change means a future of conflict over water, food scarcity, perils to the food supply and increased extinction levels. A long-term drought in the southwest, including the California agricultural areas that produce much of our food, is a well-documented impact of climate change. . Much closer to home, we are seeing firsthand the effects of rising ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine and look with great concern to the potentially massive food chain disruptions caused by ocean acidification due to increased uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The questions before us are: how bad will it get and how fast will it happen? And, what are the risks for Cape Ann and what can we do?

There is hope, and our communities are taking action. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the most important action that we can take to stem the march of dangerous climate change impacts. A clean energy future and meaningful carbon emission reduction is happening now in Massachusetts and on Cape Ann.

TownGreen2025, a Gloucester-based nonprofit initiative chaired by Candace Wheeler and myself, is working with Cape Ann’s local city governments to foster opportunities for our communities to access clean energy and move toward a low carbon future.

In the past two years, solar energy generation on private homes has increased on Cape Ann by more than 300 installations.

The MASS SAVE initiative in Gloucester, now in its second year, has helped more than 800 new homes achieve higher energy efficiency.

The city of Gloucester is waiting for the right price point to sign up for municipal aggregation, which will allow Gloucester to increase the percentage of clean electricity utility purchases from 14 percent to 20 percent in year one, increasing annually thereafter.

Residents can currently choose, via National Grid, to opt for 100 percent clean energy for residential or business electrical needs.

Massachusetts is a leader in its efforts to promote a clean energy, all-electric, and low-carbon future. Supported by a visionary state legislature in partnership with Gov. Charlie Baker, the Department of Energy Resources’ new SMART goals are to be implemented later this year. This new policy provides incentives that encourage large collaborative solar systems by private and public entities. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Bruce Tarr support the SMART program.

What does a net zero carbon future look like? Many homes and businesses will be all electric, using clean energy from either local solar farms, or a much cleaner grid. New mini split air heating and cooling systems will take over, as they are much more efficient, and less costly than oil and gas. Electric vehicles, with many more charging stations locally, will be driven by an increasing percentage of all of us. Local community solar farms and micro-grids with battery storage will allow us to be less dependent on the grid and more resilient in the case of emergencies. And, the grid itself will become much cleaner, due to the wind, solar and water power sources being now required.

And we will harness the power of carbon sequestration both locally and in tropical forests to allow many of us to become true 100 percent carbon net zero patriots. This "technology" is about to become more mainstream, as supported by TownGreen2025, in partnership with Reforest the Tropics.

Gloucester and Cape Ann will benefit from a more robust and resilient local economy that attracts new businesses that want to be part of a true innovation economy. The largest single category of new job growth of in the country is that of installer and related jobs that are necessary for the wind and solar work being done locally and across the state. Cape Ann is helping lead the way.

A clean energy future is in our sights if we can energize and engage our municipal leaders and community representatives, our citizens, and local businesses to support clean, renewable energy. TownGreen2025 is organized and motivated to take action. Get involved and learn more about how to move toward a low-carbon future.

Appeared in the Gloucester Times, May 1, 2018

Posted by Dick Prouty

Dick Prouty

Dick Prouty was the Executive Director of Project Adventure(PA), an international non-profit based in Beverly, MA, for thirty four years, until he recently retired in the winter of 2015. Under Dick’s leadership, PA, whose mission is to advance active learning, has become one of the leading institutions in the experiential education field and is responsible for 500,000 new students per year being introduced to adventure based education classes in physical education, health, fitness, counseling, and in academic classes with integrated experiential learning. Curricula development, training and consulting, publishing books and digital media, leadership development, and organizing and leading learning communities are among the core competencies he has developed over his time at PA.

Dick and his wife, Doris, have lived in Lanesville, Gloucester for the last 43 years, and raised two children, Ila and Seth. He has come to deeply appreciate the special place that is Cape Ann. Along with Co-Chair Candace Wheeler, and a growing number of volunteers of TownGreen2025, Dick is now focused on developing a plan to have Gloucester and Cape Ann make a difference in addressing the threat of climate change.

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