Concord’s Climate Action Advisory Board Launched 

On Wednesday, October 24, the Town of Concord’s new Climate Action Advisory Board was launched in an open meeting at the Town House. This Board was created to fulfill one of the provisions of (2017) Town Meeting Article 51, which  called upon the Town to adopt an ambitious set of long-range energy goals.

Article 51 also called for the creation of the Sustainability Director position now filled by Kate Hanley and for hiring a consultant to work with her and the Climate Action Advisory Board on developing an operational plan for achieving the specified goals.

For a complete statement of the Select Board’s charge to the Climate Action Advisory Board, click here.  The charge focuses on energy goals, but also includes advancing community-wide sustainability; researching and recommending energy and climate resilience tools and techniques; and coordinating with Town Committees and Boards, businesses and residents. The agenda for the first Board meeting on the 24th, which contains a list of the selected members, can be found here.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness in Concord

On May 29, 2018 the Town of Concord was awarded a $33,000 Climate Resiliency grant through the State’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. Concord is one of 82 towns receiving such grants, which are part of the Commonwealth’s effort to address climate resiliency. 

This Grant enabled Concord to identify the Town’s vulnerabilities to climate change and to establish priorities for action through a Community Resilience Building MVP workshop involving diverse “stakeholders’ from town government and the community.

The results of the workshop were presented in a public “listening session” at Harvey Wheeler on October 30. If you missed it, a brief recap will be provided at ConcordCAN’s Sustainable Concord Coffee on Nov. 20, 7:30-9 am at HWCC. The Town is now eligible for a follow-up grant to support action on the identified priorities.

Nature-Based Solutions to the Climate Crisis

Given the dire predictions contained in the recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is hard to know whether there is still real hope of averting the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

A recent article about “natural climate solutions” (NCS) published in in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) offers significant hope. The article provides a comprehensive analysis of NCS solutions, including:  large-scale conservation; land/soil restoration; and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands.

 NCS could provide over a third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize planetary warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. The combination of such solutions with aggressive fossil fuel emission reductions is seen as the only real hope for delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement. NCS can, at the same time, improve soil productivity, clean our air and water, and help us maintain biodiversity. To read the article – click here.

What to take away from the recent IPCC report

The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) recently released a special report on the status of climate change and the impacts it will have on our planet if it stays on its’ current trajectory. The report makes it clear that what is being done currently to reduce carbon emissions and keep down global temperatures is not consistent with achieving in a timely way the international goals agreed upon by 195 nations in the Paris Accord of 2016. Much too much fossil fuel is still being used worldwide; and unless drastic action is taken immediately global temperatures will rise within this century to levels inconsistent with a planet that is hospitable for life.

The central objective of the Paris Accord is a long term temperature goal of holding global average temperature increase to well below  2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. This goal is linked to a requirement in an earlier agreement that all countries work together to bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero within the second half of the 21st century.

The current average global temperature increase is 1°C . The IPCC report indicates that it is unlikely, given the slow progress of existing climate action measures, that we can avoid increasing that to 2⚬ C between now and 2050. There is a distinct possibility that temperatures will rise even higher than that.

Climate changes occur naturally, but are ordinarily very slow.  Current changes are very fast; and we can expect another degree rise in global temperature averages within fifty years. Changes in some locations, moreover, may be much greater than elsewhere. The IPCC report considers whether it is ethical for society to allow this to happen, as well as how best to share the burden among  countries of different economic means. We are on notice that all we are doing to reduce carbon emissions must be greatly speeded up. While this report is discouraging, it is vital not to lose sight of the fact that solutions do exist; and it is a matter of choosing to adopt them as soon as possible.  Delaying reduces the likelihood of a hospitable planet during our children’s lifetime. Click here to view the IPCC report.

Book Review

Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative 

By Florence Williams

From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

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