Comment guide

The Cambridge Green New Deal proposal has a very important hearing on Tuesday September 21st at 3:30 PM. This hearing will be entirely remote via Zoom. Any member of the public (including those under 18) can show their support for this proposal in three ways:


    • Send an email to the City Council ahead of the hearing.

      • <council@cambridgema.gov> goes to all nine councillors at once.

      • Copy <clerk@cambridgema.gov> so your message gets on the record. Be sure to copy <citymanager@cambridgema.gov> so the City Manager sees your message.


    • 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!


    • Sign up to speak during remote public comment at Tuesday’s hearing. The signup link will go live at this link starting on Monday morning (9/20) at 9 AM. People are called in the order they signed up, and everybody will have at least two minutes. Public comment will happen after our presentation, likely around 4 or 4:30.


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.


  • If you’re comfortable doing so, you can share your own thoughts on why the city council must act with urgency on climate- the more personal you can make your testimony, the better.


  • 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 green jobs component is essential. The Green New Deal for Cambridge would create free green jobs training programs and economic opportunity for our young people. Requiring that no less than 25% of the mitigation funds be spent in this way is key to ensuring that this proposal does justice for those who are not pursuing traditional college-based career trajectories. It is especially great that urban forestry and urban agriculture are listed among the specific skills to be developed as they are key components of environmental justice and building climate resilience.


  • The Planning Board agreed with the direction. At the recent Planning Board meeting on this proposal, most members agreed strongly with the direction of this proposal. The reasons they declined to make a positive recommendation are 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, and turning those important objectives into an either/or choice is unproductive for our community. To the extent that certain components would best fit in a separate ordinance rather than in the zoning code, the petitioners should file the appropriate language immediately and pass all components as a package without altering the intent or scope of the original proposal.


  • 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.