| GRC | 04.23.20

GRC Climate Work Continues

The Boston Green Ribbon Commission acknowledges the leadership shown by GRC Co-Chair Mayor Martin J. Walsh in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.  We thank him and his administration. We also recognize the swift and critical action taken by our healthcare partners that are on the front lines of the crisis. We have seen multiple examples of GRC member organizations mobilizing their resources to help our community respond. This is representative of the commitment to collective wellbeing that also motivates our shared work on climate change.

In the midst of a pandemic, it is hard to focus on anything but the immediate emergency. It is right and appropriate that everyone’s attention is on controlling the spread of COVID-19 and preparing to recover from its boundless disruptions. Future emergencies seem irrelevant, and in the short-term sense, they may be so.  Yet, the pandemic’s origin and spread, and our collective response, have underscored the relevance of climate change to public health and social resilience.  Climate change is a multi-tentacled emergency on a slightly slower fuse.  

The Boston Green Ribbon Commission does not intend to slow our work any more than can be helped.  We have received the same assurance from our colleagues at the City, even as the Mayor’s focus and many resources are of course diverted to COVID-19 for now.

The GRC continues to focus on the following initiatives: 

  • Supporting the efforts of our Working Groups in Health Care; Commercial Real Estate; Higher Education; Cultural Institutions; and Climate Preparedness;
  • Helping the City reduce carbon emissions from existing buildings (which represents two-thirds of Boston’s annual carbon pollution); 
  • Developing principles and design approaches for neighborhood resiliency;
  • Exploring the potential for decarbonized district energy in Boston;
  • Conducting research to understand what we can learn and adopt from the response to coronavirus (behavioral and economic changes that have an environmental impact); and
  • Encouraging individual enterprises to develop climate action plans consistent with the goals of the City of Boston for climate resilience and carbon mitigation.

The above notwithstanding, these are hardly normal times, so they call for new and creative approaches to ensure that we keep the fight against climate change front and center.  Many colleagues in our network have made efforts to convene, to write, to reflect on what has happened and imagine what might come next, and we have assembled a few of their pieces here. There are opportunities to advance our climate plans in the mayhem, as Boston University’s Peter Fox-Penner writes in his recent Boston Globe Ideas piece.  Some strategic advance action to reduce carbon emissions was taken in a timely way by Boston Medical Center, as the recent Boston Globe Magazine story shows.  Medical and community health experts from all over the globe, gathered by the Skoll Foundation and Health Care Without Harm, are coming together to think about systemic solutions.  And, as usual, CERES President and GRC member Mindy Lubber is focused on better leadership when it comes to crises like COVID-19 and climate change as she outlines in her recent Forbes column

Enjoy the browsing from your remote work location, stay healthy, and please keep in touch!

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