Climate Change Resolution
Passage of the climate change resolution at the July 10 commission meeting was the result of long-term efforts by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), led by Bryn Mawr resident Jan Marie Rushforth, working in alliance with recent citizen initiatives from H-CAN. This particular resolution was presented by Jean Lutes of H-CAN at the June commission meeting, when the room was packed to overflowing with township advocates for action on climate change. At the July 10 meeting, both Jan Marie and Alan Rushforth spoke in favor of the resolution as did Jean Lutes’ 5-year-old daughter Evelyn, who asked the commission to “please protect the earth.” Lutes then presented the commissioners with a pro-resolution petition signed by 450 residents.
Speakers made clear that a resolution like this is much more than a symbolic gesture by the township. Alan Rushforth pointed out that our local efforts can only go so far in slowing or reversing climate change; ultimately the federal government must act, which means our congressional representative “needs us to encourage him on climate change.” Noel Smith, a CCL member from Ward 1, noted that the CCL’s “climate solutions caucus” (comprised of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans) meets with Rep. Pat Meehan on a regular basis, and Meehan is “influenced by township views.” Passage of this climate change resolution affects our federal representative as well as other townships, which can follow suit and influence their representatives. This is what grass-roots democracy looks like.
In addition to passing the climate change resolution at the July meeting, the commissioners also heard from the township’s volunteer Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) on plans to assess progress on the 2008 Climate Action Plan and update that plan as needed. H-CAN pressed for this review and the EAC’s Rob Graff made clear in his presentation that EAC volunteers are eager to analyze data on township government greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and vehicles since 2008, noting that the township cannot tout its progress without clear measures of that progress. Haverford’s investment in the CREC, which earned a “gold” LEED certification, as well as our tree-planting program and upgrades in schools’ energy use are all signs of civic commitment. An EAC review can tell us where we stand in meeting the goals set in 2008 and produce tangible advice for citizens on ways to follow the township’s lead in reducing their carbon footprints at home.
There was a poignant aspect to the meeting, where Jan Marie Rushforth candidly stated that her doctors have told her she has a short time to live and she wants to use her time to continue her advocacy for the environment. She reminded her audience that “we are the first generation to see the effects of climate change and the last generation that can take action to head off the worst effects in the future.” Commissioners Larry Holmes, Dan Siegel, Jim McGarrity, Mario Oliva, and Andy Lewis all spoke directly to Rushforth, thanking her for years of inspiring service to the township, for educating them on environmental issues, and for always exemplifying the principles of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby: to be “respectful, appreciative, and kind,” to build relationships within and outside the CCL, and to operate in a bi-partisan fashion to achieve win-win solutions that use the market to reduce carbon emissions. All joined in a standing ovation for Rushforth. She passed away less than three weeks later, on July 29, 2017.
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