The Cambridge Green New Deal proposal has several important hearings coming up. These hearings can usually be accessed via Zoom. Any member of the public (including those under 18) can show their support for this proposal in three ways:
Call the Council office at 617-349-4280 with a supportive message and ask the receptionist to pass your message along to all nine councillors. Be sure to share your name, address, and the group you organize with if applicable!
Here are some talking points you can use:
Cambridge needs a Green New Deal. This proposal would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while creating green jobs and economic opportunity for the most vulnerable residents of our community by charging large commercial and lab developers a fee for the lifetime emissions that their building will generate. We need cities to advance innovative ideas like this one in the absence of meaningful national action on the climate crisis. This is an impressive local adaptation of the Green New Deal concept which has been popularized on the national level by the Sunrise Movement, AOC, and our own Senator Markey.
The City Council must act on climate with urgency. Though the city has traditionally been a leader on the issue, not nearly enough has been done. Our young people are demanding immediate action on climate change and there is no time to wait. The IPCC recently issued another dire report and climate change is already having a very visible impact across our country. The Boston-Cambridge metro area is one of the most vulnerable cities in the US with respect to climate change, with heat and flooding impacts already disproportionately affecting our low-income and minority communities.
Staggering inequality must be addressed. When large corporations such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon open satellite offices in Kendall Square, the jobs and wealth those companies bring to town do not get distributed to low income youth growing up in Cambridge. The recent Cambridge Community Foundation report explains how the innovation economy remains largely inaccessible to them, resulting in staggering inequality. This proposal is a step towards addressing these injustices by forcing major developers to contribute to green options for workforce development based on the emissions that their building will generate over its lifespan.
The Planning Board agreed with the direction. At the Planning Board meeting on the original proposal, most members agreed strongly with the direction of this proposal. The reasons they declined to make a positive recommendation at that time were mostly technical and easily resolved. Confusion and concerns with the proposal’s scope are out of step with the urgency of the climate crisis. We need to create economic opportunity through our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal has since been adjusted to address these concerns and the Planning Board voted to favorably recommend the remaining zoning portion in April of 2022.
Keep housing exempt. We appreciate and share the Planning Board’s concern for the need to reduce emissions in our housing stock, but it accounts for just 8.1% of our city’s total emissions while labs and other large commercial buildings account for more than 50%. Additionally, labs won’t be required to be built to a net zero standard until 2030 under the Net Zero Action Plan, while residential projects of all sizes will be required to meet that standard within just a few years, and many are already voluntarily doing so. The state’s soon-to-be-approved stretch energy code will legalize a net zero requirement, and many housing developers are already opting to build to a very high climate standard. There is a need to act now with a focus on the commercial and lab development that drives all at once our city’s greenhouse gas emissions, substantial racial and economic inequality, and displacement of low-income and minority residents.