2022 was a harrowing year for the planet. Floods overwhelmed a stunning one-third of the nation of Pakistan, China saw the longest and most widespread heat wave in history, and here in New England, we were pummelled by heat and drought.
As you reflect on the past year this New Year’s Eve, you might consider making a change to benefit the planet. If you’re stuck on what your resolution should be, we’re here to help.
We asked five statewide climate leaders the question: What’s one climate-related New Year’s resolution you’d recommend Massachusetts residents make this year?
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Hold local leaders accountable
Hold your local municipalities accountable. Do not let them say they can’t do anything. Whatever you can do on the local level matters. Do not forfeit the power of local governance to Beacon Street.
Dwaign Tyndal, executive director of Roxbury-based environmental justice organization Alternatives for Community and Environment
Celebrate the benefits of climate action
This is a very “Green New Deal” resolution, but I can’t help myself: Take stock of all the great things that you have, and can have, in your life because of climate action. The Community Choice Electricity example is just one of them, but also think about how much greater it will be to ride a free bus, because you can get on and off more quickly, or recognize how much more comfortable your home could be if it had more weatherization, things like that. Whether you are lucky enough to have them or it’s something you want to advocate for, recognize that this is something that’s not going to just pay dividends in 2050 — the year that we all worry about — but it can do something for you today.
Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Boston’s first Green New Deal director under Mayor Michelle Wu
All the little things
I honestly think it’s a whole bunch of little things, right? Think about who you’re buying your energy from. Think about how you’re using your energy. Think about what you eat and what the impact is. All of those. But more importantly, who do you buy from? And how do they think about their climate pledges and what are they doing?
Katie Rae, founding CEO of The Engine, a venture capital firm launched by MIT that invests in climate innovation
Switch your stove
These aren’t the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our daily lives, but one thing I would encourage people to look at is their stoves. Obviously, gas stoves and propane stoves are sources of greenhouse gas emissions, both from the the carbon dioxide that’s released as the fuels burn, and also because they seem to be a bigger source of methane than we might have previously expected.
But even more importantly, we’re learning more about how these stoves are harming our health and contributing to poor indoor air quality — air quality that, if it was measured outdoors, would actually be illegal under federal law. At least for folks who own their own homes or apartments, this is something that is a relatively easy replacement to make, depending on the wiring and electrical service in the building.
I would really encourage everybody to look at getting an induction stove or or electric resistance stove in the upcoming year. There are federal funds available through the Inflation Reduction Act as well as rebates offered through the state’s Mass Save program that I think can really help bring these technologies within reach for the average homeowner.
Ben Hellerstein, state director at the advocacy group Environment Massachusetts
Think about climate with every decision
We’re in this climate crisis that’s impacting all aspects of your life. So, in making any decision, ask yourself, will it negatively impact the climate? And think about if the decision will still be a good one under a wetter, hotter, more stormy, and variable climate. So, if you’re doing an addition to your house, think about, “how am I going to heat this addition?” Is it gonna be fossil fuel heated? Also think, boy, it’s going to be warmer, so I’m going to have to cool it, and maybe I should get better insulation. If I’m buying a new car, well, transportation is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, so what kind of car? How am I going to commute to work if I need to — can I use mass transit? Every day, we think about weather in New England, because the weather changes so much. Well, in everything we do, we should also think about climate.
Paul Kirshen, professor of climate adaptation at the University of Massachusetts Boston and research director of the research group Stone Living Lab
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