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NY Small Towns See Opportunity to Address Climate Change Locally

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Friday, December 3, 2021   

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- One of the major takeaways from last month's big climate conference in Scotland is, all levels of government need to collaborate to address climate change. One small New York community is trying to do just that.

Hastings-on-Hudson is 20 miles north of New York City, on the banks of the Hudson River.

Niki Armacost, mayor of the village, said due to more frequent extreme weather events, flooding has become a repeat concern. So, the town has adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration, working with Westchester County to reduce greenhouse gases.

Armacost argued it is critical, even for small towns, to take climate change seriously because it's increasingly becoming something they have to deal with.

"Arguably it's one of the number one concerns of municipalities, big or small, and it's a direction that we should all be moving in," Armacost asserted. "It's really, really important for our children, our children's children, for future generations, that we do whatever we can to address this issue."

She said the village is now working to draft a climate action plan, with a focus on sustainable transportation and energy-efficient buildings.

As the COP26 climate conference ended, the U.S. branch of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability released research on realistic pathways local governments can take to reduce per-capita emissions by 63% or more by 2030, in order to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals.

Angie Fyfe, executive director of ICLEI USA, said one way is through what's known as Community Choice Aggregation, which allows governments to have a say in their local energy supplier.

"That's a great way for a city to really lead by example and really demonstrate to the community that they are not only taking action themselves toward local environmental goals, but oftentimes these strategies will reduce the cost of operating city government."

She said Hastings-on-Hudson is among many New York towns participating in Community Choice Aggregation, with support from Sustainable Westchester.

Disclosure: ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, and the Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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