Northampton City Council backs Green New Deal

  • Northampton High School junior Saraphina Forman waits outside Easthampton High School to greet Massachusetts Democratic State Committee members arriving for the DSC summer meeting Saturday, Aug. 10. About 130 activists, including many from Sunrise Movement, were on hand to urge a “yes” vote on a resolution calling for a presidential primary debate focused solely on the topic of climate change.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/16/2019 12:01:34 AM
Modified: 8/16/2019 12:01:23 AM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council passed a youth-powered resolution on first reading at its Thursday meeting calling on the federal government to pass a Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal was outlined in a resolution released earlier this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-Queens, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, calling for a 10-year national mobilization to tackle climate change and spur economic prosperity. Some of its elements include a commitment to transitioning the United States to getting its power from 100 percent renewable, clean and zero-emission sources within a decade; upgrading infrastructure, overhauling the transportation system, and creating millions of high-paying jobs.

Although Ward 7 City Councilor Alisa Klein and At-Large City Councilor Willam Dwight sponsored the resolution, its development is credited to students Saraphina Forman, Willa Sippel and Jordan Winsor, the co-cordinators of Sunrise Northampton, a climate activism youth organization that’s part of the national Sunrise Movement.

“They really are the primary authors of this document,” said Klein, who expressed deep admiration for the input they gave on it.

Sippel is a rising senior at Northampton High School while Forman and Winsor are rising juniors. All three were in attendance at the meeting, which Forman and Sippel addressed.

“I cannot imagine a world where the climate catastrophe was not a constant threat, as I have never lived in one,” Sippel said.

“This is really about saving ourselves — humanity,” Forman said.

A number of people spoke in support of the resolution, including Jackie Ballance, who is working with Sunrise Northampton on a Sept. 20 youth-led climate strike.

Klein described what today’s young people are facing in stark terms, and also pointed out that many of the councilors only have a few decades of life left.

“We’re leaving them a planet Earth that is literally burning,” she said. 

Klein also said that young people in the community are saying that the climate emergency needs to be addressed aggressively.

“We need to listen to and respond to their demand for a livable future,” she said.

Ward 4 City Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra praised the youth of Northampton.

“They truly are leading us in every possible way,” she said. “Some days you are the only thing that gives me hope in this world,” she said, addressing the students. “No pressure.”

The resolution passed 7-0. Neither City Council President Ryan O’Donnell nor At-Large City Councilor William Dwight were in attendance.

It will be taken up on second reading at the council’s next meeting and will be adopted if passed then and signed by the mayor.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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