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Waltham Mulling Climate-Change Czar In Face of Trump Administration’s Inaction

December 14, 2018

A Waltham city councilor wants the city to create a local-government position dedicated to trying to reduce climate change.

The “sustainability manager” would be an assistant planning director.

Robert Logan, vice president of the Waltham City Council, said he has been working on climate change matters for years. He said he worked to get the city to join the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. (Founded during a meeting at the United Nations in 1990, it is now known as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and is now headquartered in Bonn, Germany.)

“And part of that effort was to have cities join the organization and to form a committee and to do a carbon inventory, and basically to get communities to initiate actions at the local level to address, you know, climate change and questions of sustainability,” Logan said during the city council meeting Monday, December 10, according to a video of the meeting.

“Those efforts, of course, were long before the current administration took office in Washington, and interestingly enough before the recent report came out from that administration’s own scientists saying that the whole question of climate change is more severe and more urgent than even was thought before. So the question is now more urgent than ever, but nothing’s really being done at the federal level, so it makes it even more imperative that we act and do what we can at the local level,” Logan said. “We have no control here over what happens at the federal level, but we can control what happens at the local level.”

A draft job description does not mention the salary.

If the position is approved, the new sustainability manager would try to make sure the city of Waltham conforms to the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, which calls for lowering emissions of so-called greenhouse gases by between 10 and 25 percent of the level they were at in Massachusetts in 1990 — and by 80 percent by 2050. The state has regulations designed to reduce emissions from oil, natural gas, and power plants.

The Waltham sustainability manager would also be responsible for making energy improvements, applying for grants for so-called green energy projects, overseeing such projects, and making suggestions for future green projects.

The proposed assistant planning director / sustainability manager would begin in fiscal year 2020, which starts July 1, 2019.

The council on Monday night referred the proposal to its Ordinances & Rules Committee.

Waltham, a city of about 62,000 about 9 miles west of Boston, is where the American industrial revolution began. The Boston Manufacturing Company, founded by Francis Cabot Lowell, established a mill on the Charles River in downtown Waltham in 1814.

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