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Cambridge Needs To Go To Below-Zero Carbon Emissions, City Councilor Says – And Priuses Won’t Get It Done

July 2, 2019

People who think denser development is an effective way to combat climate change may be kidding themselves, a Cambridge city councilor said.

Quinton Zondervan, a city councilor and climate change activist, is sponsoring a measure that would require an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Cambridge, in hopes that measuring emissions will help the city manage them.

He said he is concerned in particular about the amount of commercial development in the city since 2012, which is the date of the last greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

“Given the amount of commercial development that’s happening in our city, we’ve almost certainly increased our emissions since 2012, which is particularly concerning given the state of climate change,” Zondervan said during the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, June 24 (starting at 3:25:08).

He added:

And there is a theory that dense development is a climate solution. And the reality is that the way we are developing in Cambridge we’re still increasing our emissions, and that doesn’t even count embedded or secondary emissions – so, every time we do construction, that construction activity causes emissions, and we have secondary emissions like offshoring our manufacturing practices. So, it’s kind of similar to the idea that driving a Prius is a climate solution. And it’s not. I drove a Prius for many years, so I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t drive Priuses. But — it’s more efficient than an SUV, but both of them still emit greenhouse gases. And similarly in Cambridge, dense development is more efficient, but it’s not yet emissions-free, and we need to get to zero, and then we have to go even beyond zero to negative emissions, where we’re absorbing more carbon than we’re emitting. So, until we get there, we’re not properly responding to the climate crisis, and we’re deluding ourselves if we think that we are.




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