Keene has a long and steadfast history of proactively addressing climate change. In April 2000, the community signed onto the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign (CCP), administered by ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability. Since agreeing to participate in the campaign, Keene has developed a Local Action Climate Plan to identify ways the greater Keene community can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. The city and community, led by its CCP Committee, has developed processes and implemented projects to ensure that they are on track to meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 10% below 1995 levels by 2015. Keene reaffirmed this commitment in its Community Goals of 2003.
Despite the community’s and city leadership’s commitment to mitigation, Keene is already feeling the impact of a changing climate. From more frequent and worse flooding, to changes in annual snowfall, to the infestation of non-native plant and animal species, to the increase in high-heat-index days and poor-air-quality days, the community has come to recognize that these changes are affecting the community’s built, natural, and social environments.
The current state of the world illustrates that humans emit far more carbon dioxide than natural environmental processes can absorb. It is estimated that if everyone lived like an average American, it would take five Earths to support the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. This imbalance is linked to increasing global temperatures that could dramatically change our landscape, economy and cultural experience of place.
With the goal of becoming a sustainable community, it is important for Keene to continually assess its carbon footprint and identify ways to mitigate as well as adapt to climate change. The community has been and should remain a local, state, national and international example for small communities with limited resources that are looking to address these issues.