Why Hingham Needs You to Participate in a Climate Planning Forum

Antique Hingham barn with solar 500 x 888

September 8, 2022 By John Borger, Hingham Net Zero

At Hingham’s 2021 Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly approved setting the Town-wide goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and chartered the Climate Action Planning Committee to develop Hingham’s climate plan. CAPC has already started to hold open forums to get public input into the plan and needs your participation.

Two more sessions are scheduled for 7:00 PM on Tuesday, 9/14 (in person at Town Hall) and Wednesday, 9/20 (a virtual session via Zoom – visit this link for details: https://www.hingham-ma.gov/917/Climate-Action-Planning-Committee). Our State Representative Joan Meschino will kick off each session with her perspective on how Hingham’s plan will synch up with the climate-related legislation recently enacted by the Commonwealth. Will you attend a session and contribute? Here’s why you should:

1. You will learn a lot about how these plans are developed and the sources of emissions that will be our highest priorities. You’ll also get a sense of what your household can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help Hingham achieve our goal.

2. CAPC needs your ideas! You live here and you’re aware of what’s happening on the ground on a daily basis. For example, some parents and kids realized that cars idling while picking up students at school were needlessly polluting the air (see the terrific post by Charlie Inglis on the Anchor’s Green Living tab). They raised awareness, developed a consensus, secured agreement to curtail the process, and had a real impact. You may have a perspective that no one else brings. How many times have you seen something and said to yourself, “That seems wasteful. Why couldn’t we do it this way?” Or “I wish the Town did this.” Come share your observations!

3. The plan will initiate long term directions that will affect the lives of you and your family. For example, are you concerned about household waste and related emissions? Do you think the Transfer Station should require that we separate compostable waste from non-recyclable trash? Are you concerned about the emissions from all the vehicles making the regular pilgrimage to Hobart Street and from private haulers rolling around town collecting trash? Should the Town transition to municipal trash pick-up, perhaps using a “pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT) system, charging by the bag or pound, to incentivize more recycling and reduce waste?

4. How do you heat your home? Have you considered weaning your household off oil or gas? Are you aware of the attractive, affordable options available now? What timing is realistic for you? What are the obstacles that you face? What supports do you need to help with the transition?

5. Town policies are going to be re-examined. E.g., do current historic district zoning bylaws unnecessarily hamper residents from implementing desirable energy-related improvements? A significant share of our housing stock is designated as historic. How can we strike the right balance between preserving the essence of our heritage as an old New England town while making adjustments that make these iconic, antique homes more energy efficient without compromising their classic appearance? This is your town – come make your voice heard.

6. If difficult decisions are to be made, and proposals brought to Town Meeting, you will want to help set the agenda and get a firm grounding in the issues as early in the process as possible. Don’t forfeit your chance to influence the discussion.

7. In order to be successfully implemented, it will be essential for the resulting climate action plan to have the enthusiastic, informed support of a critical mass of residents. It is going to have to be our plan. The more of us who actively participate in the planning process, the better Hingham’s plan will be and the more effectively we will be able to support it.

8. Every day, we hear about extreme weather events that climate change is making worse. This summer’s heat wave and draught have underscored that the climate crisis is happening right now; we are living through its early stages. Are your children worried, do they ask you questions you have difficulty answering? Wouldn’t you like to be able to tell them that their Town is taking positive action and that you’re helping? Please get involved – do it for them.

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