Editor’s note: The opinions reflected here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.
Last month, Mayor Tim Dougherty joined over 300 other US mayors by signing onto The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (also known as “Climate Mayors”). The Morristown Council followed up by passing a resolution to support the Paris Agreement.
At the council meeting, Councilwoman and Republican candidate for mayor Alison Deeb accused the climate mayors (and Mayor Dougherty) of “grandstanding” and “showboating” for their critical action against the Trump administration.
As much as I adamantly disagreed with her comments about enforcing idling ordinances constituting sufficient local action (she obviously has little understanding of the scope of the problem at hand), I couldn’t help but think afterwards, she may have been right to question this resolution.
Exactly what is this resolution and what does it mean? Is it just disgruntled local politicians expressing disdain for President Trump, or does it actually have a local aim and purpose?
Mayor Dougherty himself flatly stated, “It’s an anti-Trump resolution!” Is that all it is? Merely symbolic in nature?
The day before the Morristown Council passed this resolution, a prominent author, climate change activist, and founder of 350.org wrote a piece in Rolling Stone aptly titled “How to Tell If Your Reps Are Serious About Climate Change.”
Bill McKibben’s “climate test” states that if your politician-in-question is serious about tackling climate change, he/she will do three things:
1. Commit to 100 percent renewable energy.
2. Work to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
3. Show an understanding that natural gas could be the most dangerous fuel of all (due to fracking and resulting groundwater contamination , plus methane release).
To Bill McKibben, to many of the Climate Mayors, and I hope to Mayor Dougherty, supporting the Paris Agreement requires more than symbolic resolutions and anti-Trump rhetoric.
It doesn’t just mean installing solar panels on a few more government buildings or earning “green certifications.” These steps are important, but it means going further to ensure we are meeting — and hopefully exceeding — the terms of Paris.
According to the Sierra Club, 129 mayors across America have committed to leading their towns or cities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 at the latest.
From San Diego CA to Portland ME, a diverse collection, ranging from small towns to large cities, have signed onto the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign.
Franklin Lakes, Union City and Tenafly NJ are all pledging to go 100 percent renewable. Aspen CO, Burlington VT and Greensboro KS already run on 100 percent renewable energy. Why can’t Morristown, NJ?
The Morristown Council has pledged to support the Paris Agreement. That’s commendable, but I want to see that they’re serious.
The logical next step is for Mayor Dougherty to join the Ready for 100 and for the Morristown Council to pass a resolution to transition to 100 person renewable energy by 2035.
It can and will be done by other towns. Will our mayor and council take the next step, or will Councilwoman Deeb’s criticism prove prophetic?
If you want to see Morristown commit to 100 percent renewable energy, send the message here: https://www.sierraclub.org/ready-for-100
The author is a member of the Morristown chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby.