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West Hartford Town Council Adopts Climate Crisis Resolution-We-Ha

West Hartford Town Council Adopts Climate Crisis Resolution-We-Ha

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The West Hartford Town Council unanimously passed a resolution Jan. 25. It pledged to recognize the potential impact of climate change and to work toward net-zero emissions for municipal activities.

Ronni Newton

With unanimous support, the West Hartford Town Council last week adopted a “Resolution Declaring a Climate Crisis,” and while it may not have been as sweeping a resolution as some wanted, Mayor Shari Cantor said it was important to be able to adopt a measure that could create real change.

The resolution – initially brought forward as a resolution declaring a climate “emergency” rather than a “crisis,” had been previously discussed at meetings of the Council’s Public Works, Facilities and Sustainability Committee, chaired by Ben Wenograd, before being finalized and brought to the full body for a vote. Below is a PDF of the resolution that was adopted.

“I am pleased to bring this forward,” Wenograd said at the Jan. 25 Town Council meeting prior to the vote. He noted the strong advocacy of high school and college students, as well as scholars, who presented detailed information about the impact of climate change, “a strong argument as to why the town should be taking a role,” and how steps taken at the local level can make a real difference.

“That advocacy has really helped,” Wenograd said. He said that now the issue is to carry out the resolution, and urged those who supported it to continue to be involved. “We need to continue to hear your voice.”

Town Manager Matt Hart, in his summary of the measure, noted that “the resolution seeks to acknowledge the serious threat posed by climate change and directs the town to take various actions as part of a global effort to mitigate this crisis.”

The resolution also calls for the state and federal government “to take immediate action to address climate change,” Hart said.

During the public comment period of the virtual Council meeting, prior to the vote, seven people – including some students – called in to voice their support for the resolution. 22 other people had emailed Council Members to support the resolution. The resolution was supported by all. There were no objections made by callers or email.

Madeliine Hextter spoke on behalf the West Hartford Garden Club. She called climate change the single greatest threat to the health and well-being of the planet’s lints. “Though the present resolution is watered down from its earlier iteration, we still support it,” she said, noting a critically important aspect of the resolution is that it calls for the town to reach zero emissions.

“I was so excited to hear that this was being formalized,” commented Kimberly Hughes, co-director of the West Hartford grassroots organization Root2RISE (root2risewh.org). She stated that she is looking forward to supporting local efforts.

Hendree Milward and Bernie Pelletier, who have also advocated for the state’s Transportation Climate Initiative, were both involved in the earliest discussions of having the Council adopt a resolution related to climate change, and expressed their thanks and support to those who worked on it. Pelletier pointed out that the town has the power to make an impression and should assess the effects of all future actions.

Cantor stated that the Council gave the final resolution a lot thought. “We want to make sure that when we have a resolution that we follow through on all the pieces of the resolution,” she said. “There is so much more to go.”

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Cantor stated that the resolution was possible and can be improved upon with infrastructure funds that the town will receive. “We can’t commit to something that we don’t know how to fund,” she said.

Councilor Leon Davidoff said after hearing from those advocating for the climate crisis resolution, particularly the youth and college students, “I just left that virtual meeting in awe and felt that our future is quite bright because the next generation of citizens, town citizens, world citizens, is so in touch with reality.” He said they are much more environmentally conscious, “much more in tune with decisions that impact our lives.”

Councilor Carol Anderson Blanks said climate change, and the impact on the seasons, has made a real impact in many ways, including peoples’ livelihoods. She was impressed with the way this resolution was implemented. “We listen, we work together collaboratively, we use our professional expertise, and then we produce a product,” she said. “We lead … but we do our homework.”

Town staff will create a program that tracks progress using software. A report will be provided to the Town Council by September 20, 222.

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