All three members of the committee agreed to the importance of combating climate change but member Keith Bona thought the resolution too political and outside the council's purview.
Update: the final draft version was added to the bottom of this article on Wednesday, Aug. 16.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Public Services Committee last week approved a draft resolution to support of the Paris Climate Accord.
The request for a resolution was brought forth by Council President Benjamin Lamb on behalf of Vincent Melito, a resident and former councilor. Melito is also soliciting support from other communities in the Berkshires and the Clarksburg Select Board determined last week that any resolution should be put to a town meeting vote.
"We inherited this planet and we're only borrowing it from our children's future ... it's not only a national or international problem, it's a local problem," Melito told the committee on Thursday. "My concern is that we make our voice loud and clear that we want to be part of the system to control the climate."
A resolution would be something "concrete" that could be sent to the city's state and national representatives, he said.
The Paris Climate Accord is an international agreement for signatories to set voluntary limits on the production of greenhouses gases and strengthen global efforts both to combat and adapt to climate change. So far, 159 of 197 parties in the accord have signed on. The White House has said it will withdraw from the accord.
In response, a number of states and other organizations are banding together to support the accord. Gov. Charlie Baker, along with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, joined a coalition of states committed to clean energy and reducing emissions. The Baker administration just released regulations to further reduce the state's carbon emissions to meet 2020 goals laid out in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.
"Combatting and preparing for the impact of climate change remains a top priority of our administration, and requires collaboration across state government and with stakeholders throughout Massachusetts," said Baker said in a statement last week.
Lamb, who attended the committee meeting, said Mayor Richard Alcombright has also been speaking with Climate Mayors, a coalition of mayors, including Boston's Marty Walsh, from across the country that are seeking to influence the national conversation and provide communities with support on how to become greener.
"We're actually in a really good place because we're already taking steps in the direction that would be toward reaching these goals," Lamb said, noting the municipal solar array has resulted in a huge decrease in the city's carbon footprint. "They provide you ways to actually record metrics on those things so that they show the steps along the way of actually achieving those goals."
He offered a "lightning fast draft" of a resolution to start the discussion that was based on one passed in the city of Edmonton with some "North Adams flare." With the mayor already looking to join the Climate Mayors, a resolution would be the City Council's statement on the issue.
"I think the community has made big steps ... it seems to be very much in line with what we've already accomplished and what we continue to push forward," said committee Chairman Joshua Moran.
Both committee members Ronald Boucher and Keith Bona evinced support for the international accord and becoming greener, but Bona said he was hesitant to support a resolution for something not specifically local.
"It has more of a national and global focus," he said, noting that past resolutions, such as the safe communities, seemed to more directly affect the city. "I don't know if it's the right place for the council. ... It feels like is should have something about what North Adams should do."
Without goals, it felt political and more like "holding signs up in front of the White House," Bona said. "At what point do we go beyond being a local city council to being national advocates or in this case, global advocates."
Melito said it was not a negative but rather positive pressure on leaders. If many communities do it, "it has to have an effect on those who sit on the fence," he said.
Moran said the council had taken positions that could be deemed political in the past, such as opposing natural gas pipelines.
"I think before the president pulled out [the climate agreement] was something that every developed nation was on board with," he said. "It's progressive and it shows to our own community and outsiders what we feel."
Bona, however, questioned the need for a statement of any kind.
"We already have the top people in the state that are supporting it," he said. "It seems like the people we are trying to push are already on board."
"I think the council showing its level of support is not a bad thing," countered Moran.
Boucher agreed, saying it seemed pretty "plain and simple."
"It just shows the city of North Adams supports the [Paris Climate Accord]," he said. "We know we do locally, it's just a statement."
The recommendation passed unanimously to send to council, although Bona said he may not support it in the end.
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