top of page

Net Zero Roadmap Coming Soon!

By Louise Bullis Yarmoff, Executive Director

I’ve seen an advance-release draft of Marblehead’s Net Zero Roadmap – and so can you by visiting the Green Marblehead Committee’s webpage at On February 15th, you’ll also have a chance to attend a public meeting via Zoom to see a summary of the document and tell the committee what you think of it. The committee represents YOU – all Marblehead residents. It has already heard from you through a survey and workshop, and is now looking forward to discussing its draft recommendations.

Climate scientists have made it clear that to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero – soon. And local actions taken here in Marblehead can help.

So, what does it mean to reach net zero?

According to Marblehead’s Net Zero Roadmap, “Reaching ‘net zero’ means that our community will reduce its GHG emissions as much as possible and remove or offset any remaining emissions by 2040 and ideally sooner. This will require a major shift in the way we heat and cool our homes, how we get around, and where our energy comes from. It also presents a huge opportunity to change our community for the better. By achieving net zero GHG emissions, we can also have cleaner air, healthier people, and a more equitable and prosperous community for everyone.”

Inspiring, right?

Yes, and WE have a starring role to play in accomplishing that goal.

According to the Roadmap, on average, each Marblehead resident emits 7.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. We do that by heating our homes, driving our cars, and throwing away our trash, for the most part.

So, the Roadmap charts the way for us to reduce the emissions we create by:

  • Insulating and electrifying our homes,

  • Driving less and buying electric vehicles (including boats),

  • Advocating with government and utilities to green our electric grid,

  • Reducing our trash and increasing recycling and composting, and

  • Planting more trees to cool our environment, and absorb and store carbon while releasing oxygen.

Marblehead’s Net Zero Roadmap has been more than five years in the making, and Sustainable Marblehead has been instrumental in its creation. In 2017, with data from a variety of state, municipal and regional sources, we established Marblehead’s first GHG inventory, which the Green Marblehead Committee built on as a basis for the Roadmap. At Town Meeting in May 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed an article sponsored by Sustainable Marblehead setting a goal of “using 100% carbon-free energy in Marblehead, including in energy production, building energy use and transportation, and moving with fiscal responsibility and all deliberate speed to achieve this goal.”

In 2019, at the request of Sustainable Marblehead, the Select Board formed the Green Marblehead Committee, with membership composed of heads of town departments (such as school, health, building inspection, finance, electric light and town planner), plus a Select Board member, the Town Administrator and two members from Sustainable Marblehead. With financial and staffing support from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the committee developed a Climate Vision and plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 (ten years earlier than the state's goal). In 2020, the Select Board adopted the Climate Vision and 2040 goal.

Fixing 2040 as the net zero goal is important. The longer the current rate of elevated carbon emissions continues, the more carbon dioxide and methane accumulate in the atmosphere, warming the climate year-on-year. To reduce the disastrous effects of these steadily increasing emissions, if we do nothing now, we will have to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane from the atmosphere in the 2030s and 2040s. The technology does not exist at scale to achieve this large amount of removal, so, clearly, it would be better to avoid putting the carbon in the atmosphere in the first place, which is NOW.

Understanding this urgency, the Green Marblehead Committee has been meeting monthly to write the Net Zero Roadmap, assessing which of the nearly 125 suggestions it received have the most impact on lowering our town’s carbon emissions. It is poised to release its recommendations in the next couple of weeks.

The Net Zero Roadmap starts optimistically with a “Letter from the Future” dated July 4, 2040, congratulating Marblehead on achieving net zero carbon emissions. It’s wonderful to think that reaching net zero is possible in that timeframe, but what must we do today to reach that point?

Read the draft Net Zero Roadmap and come to the meeting on February 15th to find out.


bottom of page