At the hearing this week on the New Haven Climate and Sustainability Framework (see March 20 post), I talked with Jeremy Shulik, a member of the New Haven Climate Movement, which was greatly responsible for getting the Framework process going.
Jeremy was handing out a flier that focuses on a few things each of us can do to make a difference with respect to climate change. Some are commonly known, such as insulation and solar panels. But others are not, such as simply consuming less, because “most of the carbon footprint is in the manufacturing.”
When it comes to food, the flier reminds us that livestock (mostly cattle) are responsible for 15% of climate-warming emissions, more than all transportation combined.
One thing that made me especially happy was the recommendation that, since large banks tend to support fossil fuel projects by, for example, lending money for pipeline construction, you can make a difference by moving your account from a large bank to a credit union (which are cooperatives) or a community bank such as Start Community Bank in New Haven (which is a Community Development Financial Institution). This also keeps your money in the area. The flier also notes that cities, universities, businesses, and even countries (such as Ireland) are divesting from fossil fuel companies (and there is a push to get Yale and the City of New Haven to do this). But we can all do our little part, even if we don’t play the stock market.
Last but far from least, we can switch our electricity supplier to one that provides 100% renewable energy. The options have recently increased, and some are even less expensive than regular UI or Eversource service (see the Energize CT site to learn how to make the switch, the options one has, and the cost of each option).
But don’t think that wind and solar energy is suddenly going to flow into your house or apartment. Instead, these companies are purchasing renewable energy credits from other New England and Northeast states that are ahead of us in producing renewable energy. It’s not that Connecticut produces none of it; it’s that what we produce (about half of all energy produced in the state) comes from the Millstone Nuclear Facility in Waterford. And nearly all the solar energy produced in the state is private, that is, on top of houses and businesses.
The New Haven Climate Movement is also interested in public art projects to promote climate change awareness. One that caught my eye is to draw a chalk line where it is expected that the water will rise to in New Haven at some point in the future. Check out this map that shows this line in 2100 with two scenarios: 3.6 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit increases. This sort of public action could go a long way to raise consciousness in the area.
The Climate Movement’s goal is to get New Haven to become a 100% renewable energy city, like Burlington, VT. It would even be better if the entire area could reach for this goal, but that would require a great deal more work in the more conservative towns and cities of Greater New Haven.