10 WAYS TO MAKE ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS A “COOL TOWN”? 

The US has less than 5 per cent of world population but generates 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But now, 400 mayors representing 66 million people in every state have pledged to reduce local emissions by signing a Climate Protection Agreement. In New Jersey, 46 towns and cities have joined, including Brick, Belmar and Highland Park. These towns are taking immediate action to adopt profitable solutions to global warming, without waiting for more comprehensive national and global plans of action. These measures focus on cleaner electricity production, reduced energy consumption by governments, households and businesses, and cleaner vehicles. This saves utility and fuel costs and makes towns more livable, while at the same time reducing the release of harmful global warming pollutants into the air
 
Local communities are “the frontlines of the war on climate change, where the risks are
 most keenly felt and where the opportunities springing from the clean energy revolution will be seized,” according to the Mayor of Seattle who initiated this movement. Population centers along coasts or rivers where the largest share of Americans live (like Atlantic Highlands) will bear the brunt of increasingly severe weather, flooding and rising sea levels related to climate disruption.
 
The prerequisite for local climate protection programs is to inventory global warming emissions in municipal operations and in the community, set reduction targets, and create an action plan. Following are 10 of the specific actions proposed in the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement (slightly edited to reduce urban emphases not suited to Atlantic Highlands):
 
  1. Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and favor compact, walkable communities.
  2. Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and mass transit.
  3. Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by, for example, purchasing clean energy directly (“green tags”), advocating for the development of renewable energy resources, and supporting the use of waste-to-energy technology.
  4. Make energy conservation a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting town facilities with energy-efficient lighting, purchasing only Energy Star equipment for town use, and urging employees to conserve energy and save money.
  5. Practice and promote sustainable building practices using the U.S. Green Building Council’s program for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or a similar system.
  6. Increase the average fuel efficiency and reduce the number of municipal vehicles; launch an employee education program, including anti-idling messages; convert diesel vehicles to biodiesel.
  7. Evaluate opportunities to increase pump efficiency in water and wastewater systems, and recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production.
  8. Increase recycling rates in municipal operations and the community.
  9. Maintain healthy forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and absorb carbon dioxide.
  10. Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about reducing global warming pollution.

Two additional steps that seem relevant to Atlantic Highlands come from the action plans of (a) Seattle: Require ferries and other large ships to plug into shore power rather than run their massive engines when in port; and (b) Princeton: Research and implement municipal purchasing programs that, wherever possible, are environmentally minded and emphasize buying locally – working with other towns to seek necessary changes in state contract regulations to permit this.

 

Possible first steps in Atlantic Highlands are for the Mayor and Council to consider signing the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement (go to www.coolmayors.com and click on “Get cool” in lower right) and decide how to study the feasibility of the suggested actions.

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