Princeton Environmental Commission endorses climate action plan

The Princeton Environmental Commission has come out squarely in support of Sustainable Princeton’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Princeton.

The commission is sending a letter to Princeton Council to make clear its support for the Climate Action Plan, and encouraging the governing body to adopt it.

“The Climate Action Plan provides a road map for Princeton to do its part to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to our planet’s warming, while increasing our community’s resiliency,” the Princeton Environmental Commission wrote in its letter to the council.

“In many cases, the actions identified (in the Climate Action Plan) have many co-benefits, including improving local environmental quality. The Princeton Environmental Commission is committed to working with the Mayor, Princeton Council, town staff and the community to implement the plan,” the letter said.

“We also believe strongly that the town’s commitment to this plan must be formalized through changes to the Master Plan, ideally including the addition of a Green Building and Environmental Sustainability Element,” the letter said.

Princeton’s Climate Action Plan’s goal is for the community to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of its 2010 levels by 2050. The interim goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in 2030 and by 65 percent in 2040.

In 2017, nearly 654 percent of Princeton’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the electricity and fossil fuels used to heat, cool and light the town’s homes and commercial buildings, according to the Climate Action Plan.

Transportation accounted for 32.3 percent of emissions, and solid waste – garbage, as measured by the tonnage of solid waste hauled to the landfill – made up 2.1 percent.

The Climate Action Plan has offered some suggestions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – from increasing the number of publicly available electric car chargers, to promoting alternatives to car ownership that include car-sharing options such as Zagster, which is a bicycle-sharing option, and Zipcar.

The Climate Action Plan also recommended expanding neighborhood and back yard composting of organic materials, and a reduction in the emissions from public and private lawn maintenance equipment.

It was also suggested that whenever older houses, commercial and multi-family buildings are sold or leased, an energy audit should be conducted and full disclosure of its results should be made.

Sustainable Princeton led the process of developing the Climate Action Plan. More than 50 volunteers worked on the project, taking into account the community’s input.

The Climate Action Plan, which was two years in the making, was funded by a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It will be reviewed every three years and updated every nine years.

The Climate Action Plan is divided into five sectors – Energy, Resiliency, Land Use and Transportation, Natural Resources and Materials Management. Within those five sectors are 13 objectives and 83 action items developed by the committee members who worked on it.