Changing Planet

Mayors Voices: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on New Climate Action Plan

The City of Boston has long been a leader on climate action. Since 2005, we’ve been tracking our greenhouse gas emissions, from both municipal operations and the entire city. And we’ve been making great progress. Citywide emissions are down 17 percent, while municipal emissions are down 27 percent since 2005. We are well on our way to achieving our goal of a 25 percent reduction in citywide emissions by 2020; and we’ve already surpassed this goal for municipal operations. However, we still have work to do. The Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan, which I released on January 15th, not only provides a clear road map to achieve our 2020 goal, but it also takes a first look at how we reach Boston’s 2050 goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Created from a year-long community process, the Plan lays out concrete steps and a vision for reducing greenhouse gases and preparing for the impacts of climate change in Boston. For the first time, Boston has sector-specific greenhouse gas reduction targets, as well as program participation targets. With these more tangible targets, such as the number of no-cost home energy assessments needed by 2020, the Plan empowers individuals, businesses, and community organizations to take action and help Boston reach its goals.

The new plan also takes a first look toward the city’s 2050 goal (80 x 50). This includes both envisioning what a low-carbon Boston might look like in 2050 and identifying medium-term actions that start exploring paths to achieve this vision.

This Plan will not collect dust on the shelf–we are already working on implementation. We’re creating new programs and services to support multi-family energy efficiency upgrades; we’re launching a 2030 mobility visioning and planning process called GoBoston2030; we’re building more transit oriented developments in our neighborhoods; and I’ll be convening a regional climate preparedness summitthis spring. The Plan will be continually updated and our progress will be tracked online at Plan.GreenovateBoston.org.

While I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in reducing our carbon emissions, climate action is about much more than just numbers and gasses. It is about increasing access to fresh and healthy food, more community gardens replacing abandoned lots, clean open spaces with plenty of trees, green job opportunities for residents, and neighborhoods with sustainable, and climate-ready infrastructure.

When I delivered my first State of the City address earlier this year, I talked about our vision for a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston. A big part of that vision is the environment, because a green Boston is a healthy Boston.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Recognizing that cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, our organization’s global field staff works with city governments, supported by our technical experts across a range of program areas to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. The current chair of the C40 is Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, and 108th Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg is President of the Board. The Steering Committee includes: Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Tokyo.

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