Mayoral candidate John R. Connolly said at an environmental forum today that if elected he would quadruple the city’s solar power and use building codes to require more green-friendly development.
He also said he would introduce proposals in his first 100 days that he declined to specify.
“There are a couple things that I would prefer to surprise you with, rather than make news with two weeks to go,” Connolly told scores of residents and advocates at the Old South Meeting House.
The forum, organized by the Environmental League of Massachusetts and other groups, was billed as a conversation between Connolly and his opponent, state Representative Martin J. Walsh. But Walsh canceled. His campaign said Walsh wasn’t feeling well and needed time to prepare for tonight's debate.
Connolly answered questions put to him by Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson and Douglas Foy, secretary of commonwealth development under former Governor Mitt Romney.
The candidate said he would consider revising Boston’s climate change goals to make them more stringent. The city already has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below those levels by 2050.
“We’ve been too incremental about our progress,” he said.
He also spoke about doing more to increase the city’s dismal recycling rate, which lags many other cities around the country. As of fiscal 2011, the city recycled only 19 percent of all residential garbage.
Connolly said he would consider introducing a “pay as you throw” approach, which could charge residents by how much trash they discard. Walsh has said he worries such an approach would create disproportionate hardship for the poor.
But Connolly said at the forum that there are ways to implement such a program that would protect the poor.
He tried to distinguish himself from Walsh by noting that he has repeatedly filed resolutions in the City Council calling on the state Legislature to pass an updated bottle bill that would allow non-carbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as the current law allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages.
Walsh has said he supports expanding the bottle law, although he was not one of many sponsors of the bill in the state House of Representatives.
Today, Connolly accused Walsh of not making it a priority.
“I’ve been out front on this issue,” he said. “The difference is leadership.”
When asked who has inspired him on environmental issues, Connolly answered Al Gore.