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Science & Environment

Yarmouth Could Declare Climate Emergency in 2020

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Courtesy of Diane Martin
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The roof over about six rooms at the Cape Sands Inn in Yarmouth was ripped off by a tornado on July 23, 2019. COURTESY OF DIANE MARTIN

Environmentalists have filed a petition in Yarmouth asking the town to declare a climate emergency.  

If approved, the declaration would require Yarmouth to demonstrably reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, getting the town to net-zero at the “earliest technologically and economically feasible” time.

“We’re not suggesting the town has to do anything it can, even the impossible,” said Barry Margolin, an environmentalist who organized the petition. “We’re saying that this is the goal set by the people of the town, and each of us have different areas of responsibility to work on.”

By declaring a climate emergency, town employees in all departments would be prompted to make more decisions around sustainability.    

“It affects everything from how do you build a new public building, to what do you do with pieces of land that might be used for solar panels,” he said.

Across the country, more than 70 towns and cities—including Worcester and Amherst—have passed similar declarations.

In many places, the declaration has been symbolic. The petition Margolin filed doesn’t come with any concrete plans, but it would signal Yarmouth recognizes climate change as a man-made, existential threat to the community.  

“There’s not a single magic bullet that fixes climate change,” Margolin said. “It’s 100 important strategies that we have to find ways to implement.”

Yarmouth residents will be able to vote on the declaration at the annual town meeting on April 24.

“We’re not starting a climate emergency,” he said. “We’re recognizing that we’re already in one.”