Podcast: Plymouth Board Declares Climate Emergency

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Wayne D. King

Wayne D. King, The Radical Centrist, interviews Doug McLane, a co-founder of Pemi Climate Emergency Coalition, about the Plymouth Select Board’s recent declaration of a climate emergency.

From News Release:

Plymouth Select Board Supports Climate Emergency Declaration 

In what is likely the first such declaration of the world climate emergency in New Hampshire the Plymouth NH Select Board adopted a declaration that placed them at the forefront of an emerging movement to save the planet and its inhabitants from the ravages of global climate change.

“The Select Board, hereby acknowledge the Climate Emergency and support efforts to support local, state, and federal actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground and facilitate a transition to a renewable energy future.” 

To a packed house, former State Rep and local businessman Steve Rand and Doug McLane, a Plymouth businessman and a recipient of New Hampshire’s Environmental Teacher of the Year Award some 40 years ago, presented the declaration on behalf of the Pemi Climate Emergency Coalition (PCEC). 

Rand stated this effort came from a grassroots movement started in July. “We are the grassroots. We are the very people who need to tell the folks who represent us that we must take action in order to solve this problem…Our wish is to set a small precedent for others to follow.” 

“The Plymouth Select Board is one of the most forward-looking governing bodies in the State if not in the country.” Rand continued, “It is in the town’s interests as well as the individual interest that we address climate action,” Rand said. 

McLane stated how fortunate we are to be in a democracy where we can present such a declaration. He requested the board set an agenda for intent. “Have the courage to take the first step to simply acknowledge that there is a climate emergency and keep fossil fuels in the ground.” McLane reminded the board that a declaration would not commit the Town to any specific action or incur any costs, but rather is the first small step needed to get the ball rolling on addressing the issue of climate change. 

Board member Mike Ahern asked what the Select Board is actually saying by voting for the resolution. He stated that although he is one hundred percent in support of renewables, he was concerned about the words “keep fossil fuels in the ground.” Ahern represents the Select Board on the Economic Development Committee and advised that the Select Board members be cognizant of hindering development efforts in town. 

Dick Hage, another PCEC spokesperson, responded by acknowledging that many others share his same concerns. Hage then stated we don’t know the answers yet, but we know something must be done. 97% of scientists and prominent national economists have gone on record to say that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the most economical and best way to address the problem of our decaying earth. “We hope,” he said, “that Plymouth will be an example along with other neighboring towns, that this will then advance to the State of New Hampshire and encourage the Federal Government to take action. We can’t do this alone. … We have an opportunity as a country, as a citizenry to be leaders for our elected officials in DC, to cause them to initiate the right kind of legislation that will encourage the development of wind and sun and small hydro to replace fossil fuels. Whether we can actually keep those fossils fuels in the ground – we don’t know. This is a simple effort. It doesn’t bind you; it doesn’t bind us. It’s an effort to say this is a flame we need to light under the real decision-makers.” 

Selectman Bill Bolton added that working on a transition to renewable energy would facilitate keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Brian Dutille then suggested that the transition may actually enhance development in the Plymouth area. 

Selectwoman Jenny Thibeault made the motion be to adopt the declaration as written. When the vote passed the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. 

The Pemi Climate Emergency Coalition (PCEC) is comprised of about 80 active participants from the towns along the Pemigewasset River corridor and several hundred other members who participated in the various climate initiatives. Their first event was the September 20 Climate Strike on the Plymouth Common attended by 800 people and inspired by Greta Thunberg. Inviting towns to acknowledge a Climate Emergency is a first step to help folks talk about and understand the serious ramifications of the Climate Emergency. Among PCEC’s next actions, a warrant article will be presented by petition at the March Plymouth town meeting. 

For more information and updates about the Pemi Climate Emergency Coalition, email pemiclimate@gmail.com or like their Facebook page. 

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