Climate Crisis Working Group

Introduction

The Climate Crisis Working Group has been convened by Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui with Councillor Patty Nolan as chair to build on the city’s work on climate with the goal of increasing the urgency and impact of that work and provide policy guidance on how Cambridge can better address the climate crisis.

The need for greater urgency was made exceedingly clear by the recent Net Zero Action Plan 5 year review, released in December of 2020, which concluded that the City will have to accelerate emissions reductions twentyfold over the next ten years in order to meet our goals. That sobering assessment means immediate action is needed. Despite more than twenty years of climate efforts with multiple worthy initiatives, citywide greenhouse gas emissions are unchanged since 2003, while Massachusetts and Harvard reduced overall GHG emissions by 20-30% even as both grew. Many residents want to do more and are either not aware of programs or do not avail themselves of programs. Numerous city groups are working on various elements of the climate crisis without a centralized process, and none include members of, or a direct link to, the City Council.

The Climate Crisis Working Group will provide input and guidance to the City Council and the administration by reviewing all ongoing work within the city, building on existing efforts in the city, consulting with community advocates, and getting input from local and state climate experts. The working group will do focused outreach to seek best practices from other cities to develop a recommended list of targeted actions for the City to implement, working methodically and quickly to synthesize the findings and recommendations.

The working group will meet over three months, with an expected total of 5-6 meetings, in order to:

  1. Provide a prioritized list of specific actions the City can and should take in the short-term to have a measurable and meaningful impact.
  2. Create a communication plan to connect residents to relevant resources and build awareness in the community of the urgency.
  3. Summarize in a usable, accessible document a plan of action to reduce city-wide emissions to meet the City’s stated goals including a way to monitor progress with clear milestones and requirements for adjustments when goals do not meet timelines.

All meetings will be available for public viewing, but no public comment will be taken. All recommendations will be referred to the City Council.

The ultimate mission of the group is to summarize specific actions and accelerate the timeframe for the City’s climate crisis efforts. Like many other communities, Cambridge needs to assess the effectiveness of our climate crisis plans and find ways to take decisive action in the short term. The commitment and charge is to offer specific recommendations of policies, programs, and practices that can be implemented to address both short and long term challenges. 

Meeting Dates

*All meetings will be held on zoom until further notice

Working Group Members

Mayor Siddiqui

Councillor Nolan

Susanne Rasmussen (Director of Sustainability, Cambridge Community Development Department)

Audrey Shulman (founder and co-director of HEET)

Ben Hellerstein (State Director, Environment Massachusetts)

Carol Lee Rawn (Director of Transportation, CERES)

Connor Rockett (New England Forestry Foundation)

Cynthia Hibbard (CDM Smith, Green Cambridge)

Daniel Mascoop (Sunrise Boston)

Dr. Gaurab Basu (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner (Assistant Professor at Harvard Kennedy School)

Lyn Huckabee (State of Mass. Energy Efficiency Program Manager and member, CPAC)

Malcolm David Bliss (VP of partnerships Common Energy) 

Margery Davies (Mothers Out Front and member Net Zero Action Plan review team)

Michael Scarlett (Mayor’s Chief of Staff)

 

Documents

Climate Action Plan - latest version issued in June 2018 - provides an overall framing of city’s work and goals on climate issues.
 
Net Zero Action Plan Executive Summary (June 2021 Draft)

Net Zero Action Plan 5 year review summary:  A 20 page document that helped spur us to create the CCWG since it ends with a clear call for action – the city’s trajectory on GHG emissions has been flat for more than a decade, and increased since the pivotal year of 1990 (the year used in the state’s climate roadmap bill)

Report on response to the 5 year review: This Powerpoint of 20 pages includes a helpful list of possible actions to take with some prioritization – which I and others had suggested be included.

Final (although it says draft) report from the Climate Resilience Zoning Task Force: This task force was started in response to a citizen petition for the city to address climate mitigation. 

 

 

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