This year has been a watershed year for addressing climate change.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act provided funding for clean energy to help reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030 and Massachusetts enacted its own climate change road map for the state to meet climate targets and clean energy goals for 2050 and beyond.
The next steps will be implementation to start changes in motion. This year’s Net Zero Conference on Oct. 28 offers perspectives on just how the world, states and our local cities and towns can accomplish those ambitious goals.
“These are exciting times for tackling climate change as recent landmark federal and state legislation will unleash substantial resources for regional and local climate action,” agreed Dorothy Savarese, president of Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative which sponsors this annual forum. “We try to be relevant as to what’s going on during the year and focus our conference around current issues. Our focus this year is on ‘Bringing It Home’ and the myriad ways our region and communities can seize emerging opportunities.”
The collaborative has gathered a host of speakers for this year’s conference, which has the theme of “Bringing it Home: Tackling Climate Change on the Cape & Islands,” The virtual conference takes place Friday, Oct. 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The three keynote speakers include: Søren Hermansen, director of Denmark’s Energy Academy and the driving force behind the transformation of Samsø Island into a world-renowned model of renewable energy; Joseph Curtatone, president of New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) and long-term mayor of Somerville, who has earned an international reputation as one of the most innovative and climate-forward mayors in the United States; and EPA Region 1 Administrator Dr. David Cash, who leads implementation of the Biden-Harris environmental agenda in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and in 10 Tribal Nations.
Local speakers will include Barnstable Town Manager Mark Ellis, Housing Assistance Corporation CEO Alisa Magnotta, the Cape Cod Commission’s Executive Director Kristy Senatori and Deputy Director Stephen Tupper, and Vincent Murphy, Coastal Resilience Coordinator for Nantucket, among others.
Specific topics will include economic resources for green initiatives, green innovation in affordable housing projects, implementing energy efficiencies, incentives for homeowners and wind power.
“Offshore wind presents such opportunities for our region,” said Savarese, who added that some are coining the waters around the Cape and Islands as the “Saudi Arabia” of wind power.
Curtatone will focus on “A Whole Community Approach” in his keynote address.
“I’m a regionalist and my goal is to give a context for climate change, how it’s tied to business development and community,” he said.
Curtatone is well versed in how that can work. During his nine terms as mayor, Somerville was named one of 95 cities in the world to make the CDP Cities A-List for climate planning and action. He also spearheaded a comprehensive net-zero action plan for his city with a strong focus on equity and worked to establish densely populated Somerville as a leader in climate technology, recruiting Greentown Labs to the city. Thanks to his pursuit of cutting-edge industries, Somerville saw its workforce increase by more than 40 percent during his tenure as the city became the home to billions of dollars of new economic activity.
Curtatone feels the Cape Cod and Islands are well-poised for that kind of change. The Cape and Islands, he said, are ahead of many other regions in the state with their collaborative way of addressing regional issues.
“We can’t do this one city/town at a time, it has to be done regionally,” said Curtatone, who spoke at the August OneCape Summit. “I’ve been inspired by the activism here. Communities in this region are a test lab for these initiatives.”
Savarese said another theme that will resonate at Net Zero is the significance of environmental justice, which EPA administrator Cash will address.
“Buildings account for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions on Cape Cod, while communities of color and individuals of low-moderate income are disproportionately affected by skyrocketing energy costs,” Savarese noted.
Housing Assistance Corporation CEO Alisa Magnotta will address financial and energy savings for residents of low- and moderate-Income housing.
The conference is geared to diverse audiences — homeowners, renters, business owners, service providers, environmental justice advocates, clean energy professionals, town staff, elected officials and citizen advocates.
“Private, public and nonprofit sectors and individual citizens must join this critical effort,” emphasized Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative Executive Director Rich Delaney. “We need all hands on deck to combat the climate crisis, so please tune into Net Zero 2022 to learn about actions you can take to help make a difference.”
Participation is free, thanks to generous support provided by Presenting Sponsor Cape Light Compact and others, including Cape Air, Cape Cod 5, Avangrid, Vineyard Wind 1 and Mayflower Wind. Sponsorship not only supports the NZ-22 conference, but also the ongoing work of the Collaborative.
To register, visit the Climate Collaborative’s website at capecodclimate.org/nz-22