The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) was born out of the Climate Justice Conference organized by Arise for Social Justice, Climate Action Now and the Springfield NAACP in 2013. Today the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition includes over 40 Springfield based organizations and is an active presence in the city.
For three years the SCJC has been working for a climate action plan for Springfield that is based on the principles of climate justice. We have continued to call for a plan that cuts carbon emissions; is just in serving poor people and people of color who have contributed the least to environmental destruction and are most vulnerable to its effects and is empowered through paid staff and a community advisory board to enforce the plan.
We called, wrote and marched in the streets of Springfield winning the unanimous support of the City Council for a resolution in support of a just climate action plan. We worked hard as part of the city Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) group to use some of the $17 million federal climate change grant to write a plan based on community input. That process included neighborhood meetings around the city asking people what they wanted and needed in the effort to cut emissions and protect the most vulnerable against the storms, heat and flooding that will come with climate change.
Last week, a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan Strong, Healthy and Just , written by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission was released. Strengths include: strategies to cut building and traffic emissions, plant trees, green the grid, conserve energy, and move towards zero waste. The plan was built on measurement of the city’s existing greenhouse gas emissions and evaluation of the applicability of the many plans already in existence throughout the country. For its scope and depth, it is laudable.
The problem is, there is no mechanism for implementation. There is no proposal to hire a coordinator or adopt a community advisory board, no process to incorporate the other City administration and no budget for anything moving forward. And apparently, attempts by the writers to incorporate those necessary steps to make the plan meaningful were blocked by the city.
At a meeting on Monday, June 12, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition met with PVPC planner Katherine Ratte and registered both our admiration for the comprehensive nature of the plan and our frustration at its lack of enforceability.
Unless its execution is planned and paid for, it remains one more pile of papers or just another site on the internet.
At the gathering, SCJC members Verne McArthur and Maria Perez stressed the need to see the written plan as a step in the process: that further negotiations for a coordinator, advisory board, and budgeting are the task of the next four months, and that without those next steps, SCJC would consider the City’s actions as a violation of the spirit of our movement and the needs of the community and the environment. There was agreement that we would continue our pressure until the plan was realized. For more information go to http://www.arisespringfield.org/committees-coalitions/springfield-climate-justice-coalition/.
You have the chance to intervene.
Springfield Climate Justice Coalition is asking supporters to submit comments to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission by e-mailing Catherine Ratte by June 28, 2017. Cc Jesse Lederman. Put “Comment on Springfield Climate Action Plan” in the subject line and express your support for a:
- Climate Action and Resilience Coordinator staff position to be charged with implementation and coordination of this plan.
- Resident advisory committee to meet regularly to oversee and assist with implementation of the plan.
- A “Green Ribbon” Commission to engage business leaders in climate action and resilience work.