The Town of Newfield adopted the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Pledge June 11 and is now seeking community members to apply for membership in Newfield’s Climate Smart Communities task force. 

The CSC task force will serve as a central body of leadership that promotes and supports climate mitigation and adaption in the community. 

The CSC task force will act as an advisory committee that advises and collaborates with the town government to accomplish plans, programs, and activities that are part of the CSC Certification program. 

Heather McCarty, Newfield Town Board’s newest member, said she wanted to work on enrolling Newfield in the program even before she was elected to the board last year. 

“It feels good to get started,” McCarty said.

Climate Smart Community certification has numerous advantages, according to climatesmart.ny.gov, including getting better scores on grant applications for some state funding programs, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation’s CSC grants. 

The website also says that CSC communities get the benefit of a robust framework to organize local climate action and highlight priorities, streamlined access to resources, training tools and expert guidance, and networking and sharing practices with peers. 

The Town of Caroline, Town of Danby, Town of Dryden, Town of Ithaca and Village of Lansing are all currently registered in the program. 

For McCarty, who will serve on the task force along with fellow town board member Casey Powers and Newfield Town Planning Board Chair Leo Tidd, the pull toward working on climate change issues is personal. 

“I have a couple young adult children, and I’m really concerned and worried that we’re not leaving the planet to them in the best shape,” McCarty said. “It feels important to do something about it. Even if I don’t know if we can make the problem go away, it’s important to take some action.”

Newfield’s Climate Smart Community Pledge, adopted after a motion made by Newfield Town Board Member Joanne James, states that the effects of climate change may endanger the town’s infrastructure, economy and livelihoods and harm its farms, orchards, ecological communities, including native fish and wildlife populations. It also states that it may cause the spread of invasive species and exotic diseases and reduce drinking water supplies and recreational opportunities.

Climate change may also “pose health threats to our citizens,” states the resolution wherein the board adopted the pledge.

“We believe the scale of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions required for climate stabilization will require sustained and substantial efforts,” states the pledge. 

The pledge adopted by the Newfield Town Board includes the following 10 elements: build a climate-smart community, inventory emissions, set goals, and plan for climate action, decrease energy use, shift to clean, renewable energy, use climate-smart materials management, implement climate-smart land use, enhance community resilience to climate change, support a green innovation economy, inform and inspire the public and engage in an evolving process of climate action. 

Registering to be part of the Climate Smart Communities program came at no expense to the town, and McCarty said that many of the initiatives the task force will work on will ultimately save the town money. 

“This program is going to allow us to just do a lot of things that are good for the town in a number of different ways,” she said. “It’s very comprehensive, and there are a number of things we are already working on, like switching to LED street lights in the town.”

The town board’s intent is to include community members, business owners, elected officials, students, and leaders of community organizations who have a passion for sustainability and a  concern about climate change and how it will affect our community. 

It is important to have a wide range of perspectives to address this complicated issue, states a press release by the town. Also, “applicants must have time and energy to contribute.” 

“Even somebody who might have some questions about it, or someone who has doubts about what causes climate change, their perspective might be useful,” McCarty said. 

Anyone interested in being on the CSC task force is asked to contact Heather McCarty at hmccarty@newfieldny.org or 607-351-0421.

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