April 24, 2019

Sustainable Princeton Promotes Plans For a Climate Resilient Community

KEEPING IT GREEN: Sustainable Princeton is stepping up sustainable efforts for this year’s Communiversity. Representatives from Sustainable Princeton will be present at five ‘Waste Center’ tents strategically placed throughout the event to ensure attendee waste is properly disposed. Refillable water stations will be placed at five of the downtown stages for visitors to refill their reusable water bottles. Residents are encouraged to arrive in a sustainable way — there will be two bike valets sponsored by Princeton Bike Advisory Committee. As part of the effort to make Communiversity greener, participating merchants were asked not to use Styrofoam, plastic straws, balloons and limit the use of plastic bags for purchases.

By Donald Gilpin

Leading the effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and build a climate-resilient community through careful, thorough planning and preparation, Sustainable Princeton (SP) has released a 62-page draft of Princeton’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which proposes a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.

The coordinated effort of 53 Princeton community members working over the past 18 months and funded by a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CAP draft is available online, with Princeton residents encouraged to review and comment via direct link: https://www.sustainableprinceton.org/climate-action-plan by May 31.

SP has been engaging the community in several outreach events to introduce the CAP draft and to encourage responses by the May 31 deadline. The final plan is expected to be completed by mid-June 2019, and numerous stakeholder groups will be responsible for implementation.

Scheduled outreach events include GreenFest in the Princeton Shopping Center Courtyard on Saturday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a CAP Feedback workshop on Tuesday, May 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Municipal Building.

“We’ve worked hard to make this Climate Action Plan a product of the community,” said SP Executive Director Molly Jones. “We could have pulled together a small group of qualified people to efficiently create a plan, but we didn’t do that because we wanted community stakeholders with varying perspectives to create a Climate Action Plan for Princeton that is viable and that we all have ownership in fulfilling.”

Each committee member participated in one of five working groups focused on the five sectors of the CAP: Energy, Resiliency, Land Use & Transportation, Natural Resources, and Materials Management. After a year and a half of deliberation, stakeholder input, community consideration, forecasting and data analysis, the groups identified 13 objectives and 83 action items to be included in the draft.

“Addressing climate change requires action on all fronts, including significant change at the local level,” said Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert. “I am encouraged that Princeton’s Climate Action Plan has been thoughtfully developed by topic experts and community leaders and lays out a robust and strategic call-to-action. This document will ultimately be our roadmap to tackle the changes required to reduce our impact on the planet and to prepare ourselves for the ‘new normal’ of severe weather.”

Princeton Housing Authority Chairman Leighton Newlin noted, “Many members of our community are already being affected by the increasing impacts of climate change. Preparedness and resilience is critical for all Princeton residents and particularly for those living on more limited means. I really appreciate that the collaborative process forcreating the Climate Action Plan has worked to consider our most vulnerable community members.”

The 13 objectives proposed in the plan draft include reduction of emissions in the built environment and increase in the supply of low-carbon, affordable, reliable energy in the energy sector; promotion of mixed-use development and pedestrian-transit-oriented, location-efficient neighborhoods; reduction of community-wide vehicle miles traveled by switching to public transit, bicycling and walking; and expanding access to zero-emissiion in the land use & transportation sector; protecting and enhancing natural resources that provide carbon capture and reduce flooding and heat island impacts; and protecting the tree canopy in the natural resources sector; reducing life-cycle emissions occurring outside the community from products and services used by the Princeton community; reducing the life-cycle emissions from the use of products and services within the community; and reducing the life-cycle emissions from the disposal of waste generated by the Princeton community; in the materials management sector; and protecting lives, property, and critical facilities from the impacts of storm water flooding, building municipal and community capacity to prepare for and respond to climate change, and preparing for the impact of climate change on human health; in the resiliency sector.

“Climate change is upon us and the urgent need to act has become apparent in recent years,” said David Cohen, Princeton Council liaison to the steering committee. “I have been thrilled to see the committee ground its recommendations in quantifiable reductions in emissions to be realized by various policy and behavior changes, and target measurable performance indicators which will let us know that we are on track to succeed. Please go online and help us make the plan even better by offering suggestions — not just for what we can do, but also for how we can hold ourselves accountable.”