Hopkinton Climate Action Plan &
Net Zero Resolution

Climate Action Plan

Hopkinton is developing a Climate Action Plan that documents the source of our town's emissions, the effects and projected effects, and how to address them. The Net Zero Resolution states that Hopkinton will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Review this draft of the Climate Action Plan. Feedback is welcome. Next steps are currently being developed.

Net Zero Resolution

At Annual Town Meeting in May 2023 the Sustainable Green Committee and Select Board jointly put forth a Net Zero Resolution before the citizens of Hopkinton which was approved by the voters.

The resolution sets our town, citizens, and businesses on a path to reach a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The following graphic encapsulates the essential information about the resolution.

Image describing the resolution. Follow link to access a screen reader friendly version.

Full text of the resolution

Frequently asked questions

What is Net Zero?

According to the United Nations, "net zero" means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, for instance by oceans and forests. Greenhouse gas emissions come primarily from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, and transportation. 

Why do we need a resolution?

By accepting a resolution, we are aligning on a common goal with the support of the community. This allows carbon emissions to be factored into decision making for municipal budgets, zoning, and other bylaws.

A resolution also allows for planning by municipal boards, departments, and committees to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions on the stated timeline. It can also motivate residents and businesses to rally around the same goals and to make more sustainable choices.

Why is 2045 our net zero goal?

The state and nation have set an overall target of Net Zero by 2050. Hopkinton has advantages in open space, few industries, and newer construction which meets more efficient building codes, to work towards a faster timeline than some other towns and cities in MA, and therefore have the capability and responsibility to set more ambitious targets.

With addressing climate change, time is the most important factor and the goal is to reduce emissions as soon as possible. Given the town has already expressed a commitment to addressing climate change by being a Green Community and through expressed goals of the Select Board, we are in a position to prioritize our goals. We believe this goal is achievable. Our target date of 2045 does not preclude achieving net zero as soon as possible.

Why use a 2017 baseline?

The emissions data currently available to us about the Town of Hopkinton goes back to 2017. Also, there has been significant growth in the town over the past two decades, so for Hopkinton a more recent baseline of emissions is a better comparison than the 2005 used for the US Federal goals. 

Will this be expensive?

In some cases, there may be higher costs up front for the greener option. However, over the long term there are often lower operational and maintenance costs which recoup the difference in cost. Also, there are state and federal programs with financial incentives (rebates, subsidies, grants, and low interest loans) for things like heat pumps, solar panels, electric vehicles, insulation, and induction cooking available to residential, business, and municipal purchases that can significantly offset the expenses.

Typically decisions are made when the current vehicles or systems reach end of service. Those replacements should be used as opportunities to select the most climate friendly option. Given that some equipment lasts 15-25 years, making the more sustainable choice now can have a major long term impact on lower carbon emissions. Also, government mandates are expected to increase. If we continue to replace or expand fossil fuel infrastructure now, we may be forced to make those greener replacements in just a few years, before the current systems reach end of service. This could be a costly mistake.

And finally, the impacts of climate change through extreme weather events are very expensive, in addition to being destructive and harmful to human health. Clearly, the cost of doing nothing is too high.

Is the technology really ready?

For the emissions sources in Hopkinton, yes! The technology already exists for electric vehicles, solar panels, heat pumps, induction cooking, energy storage, etc., and the options for consumers are expanding every year. We know the benefits of composting and waste reduction, regenerative farming and sustainable land management. The potential is there to make significant progress towards the net zero goals given what we know and have available today.

For some hard to decarbonize emissions sources such as heavy duty vehicles and intensive industries, the solutions aren’t in place yet, but the technology is coming. The fact that we can’t do everything yet doesn’t mean we should wait on the things we can do today. Let’s start with the currently available options and make all the changes we can today, and we will work toward the harder aspects later as the technology catches up.

Is this target achievable?

It will be hard, but it is possible! It will take collaboration and broad support. We know that major changes will be necessary for limiting the worst impacts of climate change, and so we need to do everything we can.

The climate action plan to be written by the Sustainable Green Committee will outline a path for how to achieve these goals, highlighting the areas that will have the biggest impacts.

Fortunately, we aren’t alone in trying to reach net zero. Communities all over the world are trying to reach the same goals, so there will be plenty of opportunities to learn from each other’s strategies.

What does this mean for me, or for my business?

While the actions in the resolution are directed at the municipal operations, the overall goals include businesses and residences. We will need the partnership of everyone in the community in order to be successful in achieving these goals. The Sustainable Green Committee will be working to implement programs that provide education and support in transitioning to low and zero carbon emissions.

The good news is that in addition to helping to maintain a livable planet, climate action brings health and financial co-benefits to individuals and businesses. For instance, a reduction in home and community pollution has a direct health benefit. For electric vehicles, there is a lower operating and maintenance cost, and for renewable electricity generation like solar, there is a return on the investment.

How can I help?

There are many ways that individuals can help us reach net zero. Some of the actions with highest impact include:

Pick one emissions reducing change to start with. If it’s time to replace an appliance or vehicle, that is the perfect opportunity to make the switch to a non-fossil fuel alternative.