Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla signed an executive order today to launch the city’s Climate Action Plan that aims to make the Mile Square City carbon neutral by 2050.
We asked Bhalla what kind of impact does he hope Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan has on Trenton’s environmental policy in light of 13 fossil fuel projects pending for review by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
“I hope it does. If we can have an impact on places like Brighton, England and California [locations that have replicated Hoboken’s resolution passed by the City Council to create a Climate Action Plan] certainly we can have an impact in Trenton,” began Bhalla.
“Where the federal government and sometimes the state government might fall short, I think it’s incumbent upon municipalities to really take the reins and become pro-active and leaders in this space. We have set some very ambitious goals through this Climate Action Plan, goals that exceed the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, there’s no reason why this should not lead to further consideration by the state government as to what they can do on a state level to meet these goals as well.”
Some of the objectives of Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan, among others, calls for purchasing 100 percent renewable energy from clean energy such as wind and solar for the city’s municipal buildings (residents will be able to purchase renewable energy later this year through a new program).
Also, the installation of up to 14 electric vehicle charging stations to make it easier for residents to own an electric vehicle, moving forward with the Scooter-share to complement the city’s bike and car-share programs, as well as the implementation of an LED-energy efficient lighting on the city’s streets and a community solar program that will allow the city’s low to moderate-income residents access to solar energy in other parts of the state even if they can’t place solar panels on the roofs of their homes.
Bhalla also noted that the city can’t achieve its Climate Action Plan alone; it’ll need a partnership with the entire community such as residents, businesses and community leaders.
Fittingly, the executive order signing took place at Black Rail Coffee, one of the first businesses in the city to sign up to become a Green Business in Hoboken.
“They are committed to improving Hoboken’s environment. They were one of the first businesses to sign up for our free composting program, they were enthusiastically behind our single-use plastic bag ban and are styrofoam-free,” Bhalla said.
One component of the plan is to preserve in perpetuity the contentious Union Dry Dock site, but just this morning we published renderings by NY Waterway of their vision to turn the Union Dry Dock site into a permanent ferry maintenance family.
“I honestly haven’t taken a close look at the renderings you’re referring to, but what I can tell you is that I, as Mayor, am 100 [percent] committed to making sure that Union Dry Dock is acquired by the city of Hoboken and preserved as open space, publicly accessible for not just the residents of the city of Hoboken but the people of the state of New Jersey, and throughout the country,” said Bhalla.
“There are serious environmental impacts associated with the proposed use by NY Waterway, there are a lot of public safety concerns and there are a lot of open space concerns. It’s my responsibility as mayor to ensure that we advance the priorities of the community, and the priorities of the community are unequivocally to preserve that space as open space that is publicly accessible.”
Last week, Bhalla attended the Hudson Climate Town Hall in Jersey City where he was joined by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to hear reports from climate activists who are on the front lines of trying to change environmental policy on the local, state and federal levels.
They are seeking to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that leading climate scientists say is dangerously warming the earth.
One of the speakers, Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, said that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has publicly said that the “verdict is in” and that climate change is wreaking havoc worldwide with more frequent heat waves, forest fires and glaciers melting in the Arctic, although 13 fossil projects are currently being reviewed by the DEP, including the North Bergen Liberty Generating Power Plant, the South Jersey Gas Pipeline in the Pinelands and the Phoenix Energy Center in the New York-New Jersey Highlands.
We live streamed the entire event to our Facebook Page, which can be viewed below: