North Adams OKs plan to honor Paris climate accord

NORTH ADAMS — The Trump administration may have dropped out of the Paris climate accord, but North Adams plans to keep doing its part.

The City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution declaring the city's support for the pact.

The resolution was drafted by City Council President Benjamin Lamb at the recommendation of former Councilor Vincent Melito.

Melito said Tuesday voices should come "from all over" on the issue.

"You have a responsibility as elected officials to speak on the health and well-being of our community," he said. "This is a way that you can do it."

The resolution, which is nonbinding, declares the city's intentions to combat climate change.

Mayors, cities and states throughout the country have volunteered to abide by the goals set under the Paris agreement, which was signed by nearly every country in the world in 2016 with a goal of limiting the global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

President Donald Trump in June announced he would withdraw the United States from the 2016 agreement, arguing the agreement was "negotiated poorly" and was too costly for the American people with few tangible gains.

Gov. Charlie Baker has since announced that Massachusetts would continue to live under the accord's guidelines.

North Adams on Tuesday followed suit.

"We are such a small part of the world, but what we do matters just as much as anybody else in the world," said Councilor Eric Buddington.

In recent years, the city has facilitated the private construction of a 3.5 megawatt solar array atop its former landfill on E Street and signed onto two other solar projects throughout the state that offset much of its power usage.

"North Adams has established itself as a green community, committed to a decreased use of fossil fuels, the improved walkability of our city through the Complete Streets program, and the improved stewardship of our natural surroundings," the resolution states.

The resolution also supports Mayor Richard Alcombright's efforts to join the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, commonly referred to as just Climate Mayors.

Alcombright told the council that he's been working with the organization for about three months, and he must meet certain criteria to be accepted into the organization. One requirement is to have such a resolution passed, he said.

"I think the more voices the better, whether you're big and strong or small — not weak — but smaller," Alcombright said.

Councilor Keith Bona expressed concern with the resolution, which he said feels like a "national protest" and is not specific enough to North Adams.

"I look at the resolution, and out of a page and a half, there's really only one section that specifically points to North Adams," Bona said.

Bona also questioned if passing such a resolution was the council's role.

"Were we elected to tell our nation to give millions of dollars to underdeveloped countries to improve their technology for better emissions?" Bona asked.

Bona said he supported green efforts, but he would be more comfortable with the resolution if it set specific goals for North Adams.

"I think it's a weak resolution for a weak agreement," said Bona, who cast the lone vote against the measure.

But Alcombright argued that those goals and already set out via the city's participation in the state's Green Communities program.

Councilor Robert Moulton Jr., also questioned why the resolution was before the City Council.

"I'll support it, but ... why it's before us, I don't really know," Moulton said.

But multiple councilors and Alcombright defended the resolution's relevance.

"I certainly see a lot of value in symbolic actions," said Councilor Kate Merrigan.

Resident Tara Jacobs supported the resolution, saying that it is "reflective of the values that North Adams already has been living."

"I actually have heard from lots of fellow North Adams residents that do support the council supporting this resolution," she said.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter.


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