October 2, 2020 - Submitted by Anne Morin, Member Hingham Net Zero
Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge of our generation and it demands ambitious action on all fronts. While it is critical that large corporations and global governments need to take meaningful steps to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the reality is that every community across the nation has a role to play in building an awareness of how our individual actions can help or hinder climate efforts and to envision what a low-carbon future will look like in our respective corners of the world. A handful of Hingham residents recognized this need for a grassroots impetus and decided to take action.
Hingham Net Zero was formed in 2019 by Turner Bledsoe, John Borger and former Selectman Laura Burns. Their goal in forming HNZ was to convince the town to develop a Climate Action Plan for reducing carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050 (if not sooner) - a goal that scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe is imperative to meet in order to prevent catastrophic and irreversible effects associated with a changing climate.
From its first meeting in Laura’s living room just over a year ago, the group has since grown to nearly 100 members who are concerned about the climate crisis and want to help mobilize our town and our neighbors towards a low-carbon future. The group holds monthly meetings and has created a number of working groups that are focused on advocacy and education.
HNZ Advocacy Efforts
Due in large part to the advocacy of HNZ, the Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator have identified climate action as a priority for the coming year and are currently in the process of creating a Climate Change Task Force that will be charged with bringing a proposal to Town Meeting to create a plan that will guide us towards meaningful emissions reductions. Such a plan will be critical for ensuring that any major infrastructure projects, capital investments, transportation and development initiatives, etc. take present and future carbon emissions into account. A plan would also help the town better position itself to align with net-zero targets being pursued at the State level. Governor Baker has already declared the same goal for the Commonwealth - net zero by 2050. We have to do our part.
In addition to pushing for action at Town Hall, there is a working group that is engaging with the Hingham Municipal Light Plant to advocate for mechanisms that would further incentivize the adoption of green technologies in town including residential solar and electric vehicles. HNZ members also aim to encourage owners of high-density developments in Hingham to install electric vehicle charging capacity. HNZ members also support the light plant’s goal to increase the non-emitting portion of its energy portfolio in a cost-sensitive way.
To inform our advocacy efforts, HNZ looks at efforts being made in other Massachusetts towns that have successfully adopted Climate Action Plans and are actively working towards their net-zero goals through initiatives like purchasing electric school buses or putting solar canopies on town buildings.
Opportunities to Learn - HNZ Forums and Climate Coaching
An increasing focus of many HNZ volunteers is to effect change at the individual and household level through educating Hingham residents and businesses on the different technologies, tools and strategies that they can pursue right now to reduce their emissions and help shift the course of climate change. The Engagement Working Group has already held several virtual forums on low-carbon technologies including Electric Vehicles, Air-Source Heat Pumps and Residential Solar. These events provide an opportunity for curious homeowners to ask questions, address concerns and hear first-hand from a fellow Hingham resident about their experience in researching and adopting these technologies.
Another exciting offer from the Engagement Working Group is Climate Coaching, which provides an opportunity for Hingham homeowners to get one-on-one support from a dedicated and passionate volunteer who can assist you step-by-step with pursuing a low-carbon endeavor, be it installing solar panels, shopping for an electric vehicle, or reducing your footprint through changes in diet and consumer consumption. The climate coaching volunteers draw on personal experience to help our neighbors achieve their carbon-reduction goals.
Follow Along or Get Involved
Our website (www.hinghamnetzero.org ) has information and resources for previous and upcoming events as well as information on how to connect with your very own climate coach. To stay informed of HNZ activities on social media, please follow us on Facebook!
If you would like to get involved with one of our working groups or attend our monthly meetings, send an email to [email protected] to be added to our mailing list. HNZ is people-powered so the more volunteers we have, the more we can accomplish!
Anne Morin has lived with her family in Hingham since 2014. She has a background in environmental science and policy and is an active member of Hingham Net Zero. Anne aims to promote a greener lifestyle in Hingham through her @gogreenhingham social media account where she provides simple tips for becoming more sustainable.