BEDFORD, N.Y. -- When it comes to tackling the issues surrounding climate change, it all begins local.
That's the message Ellen Rouse Conrad, co-founder and co-president of Westchester-based Bedford 2020 plans to share at the organization's upcoming Climate Action Summit, which will be held Feb. 3 in Bedford.
"The public is aware of the problems climate change has produced in our world," said Conrad, who, along with Mary Beth Kass, serves as the Summit's chair. "There is enormous progress and cause for optimism for what we as a nation, a region and town can do about it."
A first-of-its-kind meeting, the Summit will welcome civic, business and environmental leaders from across the New York region, as well as elected officials. Local activists from Westchester and the Hudson Valley will be in attendance, as will representatives from Long Island and beyond.
"I think there is a lack of hope and people think, 'There is nothing I can do,'" said Conrad. "That’s one reason we’re having a Summit. It’s an opportunity to bring the region together and realize we’re part of something bigger."
The summit speakers will explore an array of topics, from the development of renewal energy options to soil regeneration and the planting of pollinator gardens. With each topic, there is a distinct goal of creating local, tangible solutions. "We’re looking to address these ideas on a regional basis," said Kass. "People are working on different projects and we can all benefit from sharing our successes and our obstacles."
One such success story has been a program known as community choice aggregation -- or CCA. CCA allows municipalities to negotiate an energy supply contract on behalf of their residents and businesses, ensuring a better price and often times cleaner source of energy.
To date, 20 towns in Westchester County have signed up for this program, 14 of which have required their energy to be 100 percent renewably sourced. In addition to helping the environment, demanding an alternative has produced financial benefits. "Residents have saved about $6 million in electricity costs over two years, with that number poised to climb as oil prices rise," said Kass.
A leader in the environmental movement, New York State currently has two goals: a 50 percent supply of renewable energy by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions in 2050. "The goals are a good first step, but the Summit will show us how to get there," said Conrad. "Each person has a role in achieving that. We want to deliver the message of optimism and possibility."
The Summit will be held on Saturday, Feb. 3 at Fox Lane High School in Bedford.
For more information and to register for Bedford 2020's Climate Action Summit, click here.