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Bethel pledges climate action

By Fritz Mayer
December 4, 2013

The Town of Bethel has become the latest municipality in Sullivan County to adopt the Climate Smart Communities Pledge. At the town meeting on November 13, the board voted unanimously to adopt the pledge, which is promoted by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The towns of Tusten, Cochecton and Lumberland, as well as Sullivan County, have also adopted the pledge. Municipalities that take the pledge are able to get assistance from the state in adopting programs that reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency. To date, 120 cities, villages, towns and counties in the state have adopted the pledge.

Sturm read the pledge, which said in part, “We believe the effects of climate change can endanger our infrastructure, economy and livelihoods; harm our farms, orchards and ecological communities, including native fish and wildlife populations; spread invasive species and exotic diseases; reduce drinking water supplies and recreational opportunities; and pose health threats to our citizens.”

According to the DEC, some signs of the changing climate are already apparent: “Winter snow cover is decreasing and spring comes (on average) a week or so earlier than it did a few decades ago; even when the weather is cold, nighttime temperatures are measurably warmer; summers have more super-hot days; diseases typical of warmer climates are appearing; intense precipitation events are occurring more often.”

The adoption of the pledge is another action the town has taken in furtherance of reducing energy consumption. In 2008, the town began a program to make buildings and town operations more energy efficient.

The pledge contains the flowing goals:
1. Pledge to combat climate change by
becoming a climate-smart community
2. Set goals, inventory emissions, move
to action
3. Decrease energy demand of local
government operations
4. Encourage renewable energy for local
government operations
5. Realize benefits of recycling and
other climate-smart solid waste
management practices
6. Promote climate protection through
community land-use planning
7. Plan for adaptation for unavoidable climate change
8. Support a green innovation economy
9. Inform and inspire the public
10. Commit to an evolving process