NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Can New Jersey—and New Brunswick—operate entirely on renewable energy?
Some activists think so. And they want elected officials in the Hub City to make that commitment—the sooner the better, but by 2035 at the latest.
Junior Romero, the Central New Jersey organizer for the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, brought the idea to the City Council last night, during its July 19 meeting, following another activist who raised the issue earlier this summer. Romero distributed a pledge to each council member, in hopes of convincing the Democrats to sign on.
“We need to be more proactive in fighting this climate change-denying president,” Romero told the council. “We currently have a governor who doesn’t believe in the science behind climate change.”
So the drive to combat climate change comes down to municipalities, he added.
After President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Climate Accord, local communities and even some states have vowed to support the effort and implement green-energy programs. New Brunswick, he said, must do its part.
The pledge that Romero brought to the council is part of a national campaign orchestrated by Food & Water Watch, which has an office in New Brunswick.
The document, written from an elected official’s point of view, opens by acknowledging the science behind humankind’s role in climate change and its dangers.
“I pledge to be a leader on climate change issues and will support efforts in my community to move us off fossil fuels,” the pledge reads, “and achieve a just transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
Activists and scientists argue that this must be done on a large scale by 2035 to “avoid catastrophic climate impacts,” according to the pledge. But the document carries a greater sense of urgency, pushing officials to act now.
Those who sign the pledge also commit to opposing projects that expand fossil fuel production and its use, working “quickly” to replace infrastructure that’s dependent on fossil fuels and addressing the “toxic legacy of fossil fuels in all of our communities, especially those most impacted.” Food & Water Watch said that list includes indigenous people, communities of color, low-income neighborhoods and rural areas.
Some officials in Franklin, Piscataway and Highland Park have already signed the pledge, Romero said. So have state senators.
Reached this morning, city spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw had no comment on the pledge.
“We haven’t had a chance to review it yet to see what it would actually entail,” she said.