BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Being environmentally conscious is nothing new for the City of Hyattsville. The city has a number of green practices, is Sustainable Maryland Certified, and has been designated a Tree City USA for the past 26 years.
On June 2, just one day after President Donald Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, Mayor Candace Hollingsworth joined nearly 250 other mayors in signing a statement saying they would “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”
“Agreeing to uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement means that I am committing myself and our work in the city to ensure that we take our role as stewards of the environment and natural resources more seriously than we do already,” Hollingsworth said. “Absent the leadership at the federal level, we cannot afford to punt the ball.”
The statement was released by Climate Mayors, a group founded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda commits U.S. mayors to working together to strengthen local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to support efforts for binding federal and global-level policymaking.
The Paris Agreement was a historic agreement signed by most countries in the world. The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. Countries set their own goals; the agreement does not impose any binding commitments or targets on the countries.
“I believe that by committing to upholding these goals, mayors of cities and towns across the nation — where the day-to-day work of creating livable communities takes place — are taking this collective responsibility head-on and will begin redoubling their municipalities’ efforts in protecting the planet with which we’ve been entrusted,” Hollingsworth said.
“It should come as no surprise that the City of Hyattsville is signing into the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda,” said Jim Groves, former chair and current secretary of the Hyattsville Environmental Committee. “For almost a decade, the city has been striving to reach the goal of environmental sustainability.”
Hyattsville was one of the first Maryland municipalities to originally become Sustainable Maryland Certified in 2013, and the city successfully became re-certified last year. To earn the certification, Hyattsville had to show its commitment to sustainable actions. All of the city’s energy currently comes from wind: it powers the three public buildings and is used to power streetlights and park facilities. In 2012, the city installed a “white roof” on the top of the City Municipal Building, which reflects the sun’s rays, therefore lowering the temperature of the building and lowering energy costs. The city also began a community garden in 2011; purchased three Polaris GEM vehicles for parking enforcement staff in 2013; installed over 10,000 square feet of rain gardens and bioswales along streets, parks, and at city owned buildings, which help to mitigate thousands of gallons of stormwater; installed anti-idling devices on six police vehicles, which save fuel and reduce emissions by shutting off the engine while parked; adopted a Sustainable Land and Building Management Policy, aimed at eliminating the use of toxic pesticides on city-owned property and buildings; initiated a Backyard Composting Pilot Program; adopted a Green Streets Policy, which ensures that low-impact design is utilized in the stormwater and transportation elements of any redevelopment projects; hosts a weekly farmers market; established its first food forest in 2016; and at the council meeting June 5, approved a grant for the purchase of one Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle, one Zero DPS Electric Police Motorcycle, and two electronic charging stations.
“I am now embarking on the work of figuring out where we are making progress toward the goals and where we need to implement policy (or practice) to do so,” Hollingsworth said. “This type of commitment isn’t just ceremonial for me; if I’m saying we will honor these goals, I want to do everything we can to advance them.”
On June 7, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker released a statement of support for the Paris Agreement. “I have joined mayors, county executives, and business leaders by adding Prince George’s County’s name to the list of “We Are Still In” initiative that is committed to upholding the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement. Prince George’s County will continue to do our part to meet the global objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Last week former President Barack Obama released a statement urging action from the bottom up. “I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got,” Obama’s statement read.
With all that Hyattsville is already doing to be green, it looks like the city is ready for that challenge.