Southold joins other towns in adopting climate pledge

Following in the footsteps of East Hampton, Southampton and Riverhead, Southold has become the fourth East End town to adopt New York State’s Climate Smart Communities Pledge. 

The pledge acknowledges that climate change “poses a real and increasing threat to our local and global environments and is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels,” and states the town will pursue measures to mitigate the impacts, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, shifting to renewable energy and considering climate change in long-term planning.

Greenport Village also adopted the pledge in 2010.

It was approved 5-0, with Councilman Bob Ghosio absent.

John Stein, a member of the town’s Conservation Advisory Committee, urged the board to make the pledge. He said the climate commitment could open up additional grant opportunities for the town to pursue.

“This goes hand in hand with our mission statement,” he said during a discussion at a work session Tuesday, and fits in well with the records already kept by the committee on things like habitat conservation and shoreline hardening.

Supervisor Scott Russell said that under the program, the state sets a list of goals for towns to meet at their own pace. Their first steps would include appointing the CAC to lead the effort and create an initial set of goals.

“Some of the issues are a little bit broader than what we’ve already done,” the supervisor said, adding that the CAC could meet with various departments, including town engineers and trustees, to document completed and ongoing initiatives. “Any of the groups that have already shepherded these things to conclusion,” he said.

The supervisor said that many goals listed, such as energy efficient town vehicles and street lighting, are already in use or underway.

“We’ve already done some [LED lighting], but we should finish by the end of 2020,” Mr. Russell said during the work session.

The system allows the town to provide data to the state about both completed and ongoing initiatives that could help create policies in the future, Mr. Russell said.

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