• ECHO Action Editor

Council commits Keene to Paris climate compact

Keene NH has shown leadership on climate and recycling for many years. The city council signed this climate resolution, but also approved a fracked gas plant. Clean energy solutions are where it's at. We know the city and businesses will see the sunlight on this and continue their legacy of climate leadership in the Monadnock Region. #CleanGreenKeene

The Keene City Council has backed a resolution supporting the Paris Agreement on climate change.

A majority of councilors also approved Thursday night allowing Mayor Kendall W. Lane to sign an open letter saying to the world that he stands with other state, local, business and academic leaders in continuing to uphold the agreement’s goals.

The “We Are Still In” letter started circulating after President Donald J. Trump announced June 1 that he would withdraw the United States from the agreement.

The letter has more than 1,000 signatures from leaders of municipalities, businesses, academic institutions and other organizations.

The Paris Agreement was reached in 2015, and commits almost every country in the world to act to limit the global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The expectation is to eventually tighten that limit to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In addition, the United States pledged as part of the accord to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to be below 2005 levels by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

Last month, after hearing testimony from area residents that was mostly in support of the agreement, the City Council’s planning, licenses and development committee unanimously recommended the full council support the resolution and letter.

Of the City Council’s 13 members who were present at Thursday night’s meeting, 12 voted in favor of the resolution and letter.

Ward 4 Councilor Robert B. Sutherland voted against both motions, saying that the more he listened to discussion about what Keene has done to fight climate change and promote renewable energy, the more he realized the letter and resolution would have no impact.

“We’re already ahead of what everyone else is doing. As such, this means nothing. This is political grandstanding,” he said. “This is a waste of the taxpayers’ time.”

Gary P. Lamoureux and Bartlomiej K. Sapeta, both city councilors at-large, were absent from the meeting.

Randy L. Filiault, city councilor at-large, said that with so many things coming out of Washington, D.C., and Concord that are against previous policies — including positions on climate change and the environment — cities and towns across the county need to be more active.

“We have to take more of an aggressive stance on behalf of our communities,” he said.

About 45 people attended Thursday’s meeting, and many of them applauded after the City Council approved the resolution.

Attendance has been high at recent City Council and committee meetings as members discussed the climate agreement and a proposal by Liberty Utilities to begin moving the city’s decades-old propane-air distribution system to natural gas.

The meetings have also been preceded by protests in front of City Hall and on nearby Central Square against natural gas and for preserving the environment.

Last month, in a 5-4 vote, the City Council approved discontinuing a section of Production Avenue to allow Liberty Utilities to install a temporary natural gas facility.

The vote came during the same meeting when councilors decided to send the climate resolution to committee.

During the process, several area climate activists have questioned city officials supporting both natural gas development and combating climate change. Activists have said, and some city councilors have acknowledged, the two actions conflict with one another.



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