In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement—an accord committing 194 nations across the world to lower their climate emissions—the town of Mamaroneck has reaffirmed its mission of reducing green-house gases.
This week, after press time, the Mamaroneck Town Council is expected to unanimously adopt a resolution in defiance of Trump’s move to pull out of the accord, which signaled a major step away from efforts to curb climate change under the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
“Although the federal government may be giving up, the local communities are not,” said Councilman Tom Murphy, a Democrat, who was behind the resolution. “The town board believes that global warming is real and we will do whatever is in our power to fight it and advocate for policies that mitigate it.”
According to Murphy, who is running for village of Mamaroneck mayor in November, though the decision to pull out of the accord is in the hands of the federal government, there is still much that can be done on the local level to help reduce the town’s footprint on the environment.
Among the initiatives that Murphy said the town will continue to pursue are encouraging more bicycling and walking by adding bike lanes and pedestrian walkways, promoting green energy use, and ensuring that new developments are built in a sustainable fashion, with energy efficiency in mind.
Specifically, Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson, a Democrat—who has been the leader behind many of the town’s green initiatives over the past several years—highlighted the town’s transition to energy efficient LED lighting, a ban on the use of plastic bags, and a performance contract that commits the town to lowering energy use in the town center, firehouse and local ice rink.
“People feel strongly about protecting the environment in our community and [we are] participating as best we can to protect our planet,” she said.
According to Murphy, the town and village of Mamaroneck have a unique stake in the fight against climate change, given their proximity to the Long Island Sound and the potential for sea levels rising—a major side effect of melting glaciers—impacting businesses and disrupting residents’ lives.
“We are going to be the first to feel the effects of rising sea levels,” he said. “To ignore it as an elected official is to ignore the needs of our residents.”
According to the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, DEC, by 2100 sea levels along the state’s coastlines and estuaries could rise between 18 to 50 inches. The most sever estimations calculate a 75-inch rise.
In the village of Mamaroneck, a Planning Department assessment from 2016 showed that a sea level rise of just 1 foot, would incur upwards of $5.6 million in damages to village property alone. In an estimate factoring in a six-foot rise, that number jumps to more than $181 million.
While the decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement—which would have seen the U.S. strive to reduce carbon emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels—may signal a shift in the attitude of the federal government, Seligson said that the fight to curb climate change is still a collaborative one.
“The feeling is that there are many other entities that are going to have to participate in reducing our emissions and trying to lower greenhouse gases to protect our planet from climate change,” she said. “Although the federal government is taking one stand, there are city states and companies that are committing to help, and we would like to be one of those.”
-with reporting by Isabel Banta