News and Press Sen. Markey Calls on Cape Cod to Make a Difference on Climate Issue

By Brian Merchant

HYANNIS – Senator Ed Markey was in Hyannis Thursday to discuss the importance of local climate activism, the Green New Deal and the future of collective climate crisis work.

The Massachusetts Democrat was a guest speaker at the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative’s second annual Net Zero Cape & Islands roundtable conference.

The conference brought together hundreds of Cape Cod climate action leaders and policy makers from government, business, environment, energy, transportation, science and faith communities to discuss best practices and goals to achieving a “net zero” – or carbon neutral – footprint for Cape Cod and the Islands.

Markey said the climate crisis is the national security, economic, health, environmental and moral challenge of our time.

“We don’t have an option,” Markey said. “We have to be the leaders who are going to be the leaders who are going to be putting together the solutions that will be put in place.”

Markey emphasized how the United Nations has classified climate change as an existential threat to the planet, and that thirteen federal agencies completed a report last fall which stated that there could be a 9 degree warming of the planet by 2100.

“There is a big difference between 79 degrees – let’s go for a nice walk – and 88 degrees – let’s stay inside and turn on the air conditioner,” he said.

Along with the rising temperatures many scientists believe the sea level could rise by up to 10 feet.

“We have to deal with this threat to the public,” Markey said.

The senator said the effects are being seen right here in waters off the coast of Massachusetts.

“Except for the Arctic, we have the second fastest warming body of water on the planet off of our coastline,” he said.

Markey said the conditions and impacts resulting from climate change are only going to intensify.

“Tornadoes in July on the Cape are not ordinary,” he said.

The powerful supercell hit the Cape on July 23 and the National Weather Service confirmed that it produced three tornadoes and a microburst. The areas impacted the most were Harwich, Chatham, Yarmouth and Dennis.

“It is only a preview of coming attractions,” Markey said. “It is just going to be something that becomes [normal,] not just for the Cape, not just for the Islands, not just for Massachusetts, not just for the United States, but for the whole planet.”

Markey criticized the Trump Administration for its plans to eliminate the state of California’s auto emission standards.

He said 70 percent of the oil we consumer is put into gas tanks and that moving to electric vehicles poses a threat to the fossil fuel industry.

“They would prefer to keep the existential threat to the planet in place rather than the existential threat to their business model,” Markey said.

Markey said the leadership of the Cape and Islands is needed to show that people can come together in a collaborative way to demonstrate there is a powerful political force on the other side of big oil.

He also touted his Green New Deal legislation which was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

The proposed legislation seeks to boldly transform the economy to tackle the issues of climate change and inequality.

Markey said the effort has forced discussion on the issue of climate change.

“Everyone now has to talk in a comprehensive way about this issue,” he said.

The inaugural Net Zero Cape & Islands Conference last September brought together climate action leaders and stakeholders to grapple with the nature and scope of the climate crisis and discuss ways to begin to brainstorm strategies for moving the Cape & Islands closer to that goal.

This purpose of this year’s “Pathway to Net Zero” conference was to build on the foundation established last year by identifying specific strategies and actions that can be taken beginning next year to move, collectively, to net zero carbon emissions.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Lynne Carter, an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona and Louisiana State University and an internationally acclaimed academic, researcher, author and leader in the field of climate change adaptation, mitigation and resiliency.

Morning and early afternoon sessions focused on strategies to address the climate crisis through five panel discussions focusing on policy driving action, transportation, financing climate action, offshore wind, and a moral call to action.

Break-out sessions were held in the afternoon focusing on the sectors of built environment, conservation, education, energy, and transportation.

Participants were asked to make commitments and detail action each sector will implement to move the region toward net zero.