by Zoe Linder-Baptie MPP/MCRP ’18
Local government leadership is stepping up around the country to do something about addressing the increasing impacts from climate change, and New Jersey is helping to lead the way.
In February, Sustainable Jersey, the Bloustein School and NJ League of Conservation Voters Education Fund hosted the 2018 New Jersey Mayors’ Climate Summit in the Florio Special Events Forum. Jeanne Herb, Associate Director of the Bloustein School’s Environmental Analysis and Communications Group and Dr. Robert Kopp, Director of Rutgers’ Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences opened the Summit by discussing the ways we might already be recognizing climate change here in New Jersey. About 600,000 of New Jersey’s residents live within ten feet of the high tide line, and about $190 billion dollars’ worth of property is also located in this area.
The adaptation and mitigation actions that we can take overlap especially when we talk about green infrastructure, sustainable transportation, and conservation of water and energy. Since climate change and global warming can be attributed to an increase in human caused emissions of greenhouse gases, there can be targeted approaches to decreasing emissions in New Jersey by thinking about fuel properties, vehicle efficiency and travel demand for transportation. New Jersey has the authority to do something about this, and Jeanne Herb listed the many different legislative actions that have already been taken. Dr. Kopp also highlighted the current Bloustein policy practicum study looking at the social cost of carbon as something to look out for when students share their findings at the end of the semester.
A second panel focused on how municipalities can play a key role in complimenting state and federal policies, while filling existing gaps. It dove deeper into Sustainable Jersey’s Gold Star Standard in Energy, and spotlighted successful models from New Jersey communities.
Other speakers at this years’ summit included Mayor John McCormac (Woodbridge), Mayor Bruce Packer (Glen Rock), Mayor Ravinder Bhalla (Hoboken), Mayor Liz Lempert (Princeton), Mayor Christopher Bobbitt (Lawrence), Mayor Victor Sordillo (Warren Twp), Mayor Bruce Harris (Chatham Borough), and Mayor Phil Kramer (Franklin Township). The highlight for guests was a visit from First Lady, Tammy Murphy, who prior to joining Governor Phil Murphy in politics was a founding member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Group. During her visit to the Summit she listed the steps Governor Murphy had already taken in the last week to continue his campaign priorities of addressing climate change. Sustainable Jersey urged all guests to participate in their programs and continue to support local leadership.