Vaibhav Sharma, photo editor
In the years to come, New Haven residents may see the city of Elm become greener.
On Tuesday evening, the Alders board’s municipal services and environmental policy committee met to discuss a resolution formally committing the city to electric power to all of its buildings and vehicles by 2030. This resolution is in line with the alder legislative program – which has enshrined environmental justice as one of its public policy priorities – and the council of aldermen’s commitment to end the use of greenhouse gases in the area. city ââby 2030. It has been approved by the committee and will be submitted to the council of aldermen for a final vote.
âElectrification is a really powerful tool because it allows us to fight directly against the air pollution that is causing the climate crisis,â said Ward 21 chaplain Steven Winter. âWhile also addressing the public health crisis that we are currently experiencing acutely, but that we experience chronically year after year, especially in respiratory diseases. “
The Environmental Policy Committee resolution lists a plethora of reasons for this decision. These include the prevalence of asthma in New Haven, one of the highest in the country, the positive impact of electrification on jobs, and the city’s vulnerability to climate change as a coastal town.
The document also presents a plan to implement the city’s switch to electric power. This includes delegating tasks to the municipal engineer, the Board of Education, the Municipal Planning Department and the Liveable City Initiative, among others, regarding how to electrify their respective jurisdictions. The resolution is also aimed at creating new jobs in the city – if passed, it would task the economic development department to report to the council of aldermen on how to most effectively create jobs.
One of the groups involved in drafting the resolution was the New Haven Climate Movement, a grassroots environmental organization. Chris Schweitzer, the organization’s founder, said the resolution came from their Electric Future campaign, where they worked with city engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05 and the planning department on the electrification of buildings during summer. They provided the resolution to Winter, who then presented it to the committee.
One of the goals of the resolution, according to Schweitzer, is for New Haven to take a leadership role in electrification. He said he hoped to see the city make a public commitment to electrification so that pressure from the public, developers and Yale University to move towards electrification themselves.
“Part of the resolution is to get the mayor and alders to come forward and publicly commit that electrification is the right way to go, and New Haven is committed to electrifying whatever it is. can, “said Schweitzer.
According to Schweitzer, the state of Connecticut has claimed that two of the region’s largest electricity providers – United Illuminating and Eversource – will be 91% fossil-free by 2025. Currently, Schweitzer said “a very small percentage âNew Haven buildings and vehicles are fully electrified. Therefore, greater electrification would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Schweitzer said electrification would not only bring environmental and public health benefits, but also make more sense in terms of energy efficiency. Replacing gasoline furnaces and cars with heat pumps and electric vehicles, for example, would actually use less energy.
âWe have a climate catastrophe going on,â Schweitzer told The News. âWe just can’t burn more fossil fuelsâ¦ And luckily, we have a great option. Anything that is manufactured can run on electricity and without fossil fuels, and it’s much more efficient.
Tracy Zhou ’23, who is involved in the New Haven Climate Movement, testified at Tuesday’s meeting. She mentioned how a greenhouse gas inventory report produced for the city and released in 2015 showed that combined emissions from transportation and buildings accounted for around 70% of the city’s total emissions.
“There is already enough good technology for the city to start making significant changes,” Zhou said at the hearing. âIn some ways, starting with these changes will likely give the market more momentum to create even more and better technologies that can then be adopted. ”
While the resolution was passed unanimously in the committee, Zhou said resolutions such as the one discussed on Tuesday are statements of intent, meaning they are not legally binding. She said a previous resolution from the New Haven climate movement – called the climate emergency resolution – was also passed unanimously by the council of aldermen in September 2019. The resolution included a clause requiring a report from services. municipal officials to the working group on mobilization in the event of a climate emergency. six months after the resolution was passed, which never happened, according to Zhou.
âWe are certainly delighted that it is adopted and it contains a lot of language that we consider important,â Zhou told The News. “But seeing how they actually do these steps going forward is something the New Haven climate movement will certainly be watching.”
According to the US Green Buildings Council, commercial and residential buildings account for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.
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