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Cape Cod Commission Seeks Public Comment on Regional Climate Action Plan

Cape Cod Commission

The Cape Cod Commission is seeking public feedback on the region’s first-ever climate action plan.

The plan, released in draft form on Monday, targets the region’s highest emitting sectors — transportation and energy — and lays out a suite of local actions to lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience to climate threats.

It calls for increasing renewable energy production, enhancing natural carbon storage through land protection, and supporting more electric vehicle infrastructure and low- or no-carbon transportation options.

Reducing vehicle miles travelled and accelerating the electrification of the transportation system would require more options for virtual work, better connectivity in bike and pedestrian networks, and investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The report also calls for:

  • Renewable energy installations that limit new clearing. Protecting trees, small wooded lots, reforest disturbed areas, and salt marshes as open space will allow for natural carbon storage.
  • Promoting development that utilizes existing infrastructure and buildings to minimize the clearing of vegetation, save energy, and reduce emissions related to the production of new materials, infrastructure, and buildings.
  • Design guidelines for solar projects to increase solar production in a way that preserves historic and community character.
  • Drafting and adopting floodplain bylaws for towns to limit development in vulnerable areas.
  • Conducting vulnerability assessments of utilities like electricity delivery, wastewater conveyance, and municipal facilities like community shelters, public safety buildings, and other critical facilities may be located in harm’s way.
  • Future comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventories to be produced in five-year increments, along with new metrics for a yet-to-be-formed committee or task force to measure progress across all sectors.

To help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, it also directs town and homeowners to consider retrofitting, elevating, relocating, or, in some cases, abandoning low-lying, vulnerable roads, homes, and businesses. The report encourages state and municipal workers to explore buyout possibilities and “undevelop” with willing owners.

In addition, it promotes plans to weatherize and maximize the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial, industrial, municipal, and other public buildings, houses, and apartment complexes.

There are over 163,000 existing housing units Cape-wide, according to the report, and they’re ripe for climate planning. By the end of the century, damage to buildings and land lost to inundation on Cape Cod could alone total over $30 billion.

Comments on the plan are due by Monday, May 24 and can be submitted to the Cape Cod Commission by email to climate@capecodcommission.org, in writing to Cape Cod Commission, P.O. Box 226, 3225 Main Street, Barnstable MA 02630, or by phone to 508-744-1271.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.