The City of Boston has committed to become a carbon neutral city in a little over 30 years. Getting there will require changes large and small across many sectors of the city. Where to begin? The City, Green Ribbon Commission (GRC) and Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) are currently producing a Carbon Free Boston (CFB) report to answer just this question. On June 28th, over sixty people representing a broad array of stakeholder groups (including BCAN) were briefed on the status of that report. Our takeaways:
- We expect the report to be of very good quality. While we learned that the release date has been pushed back a little more to Nov 7th, we learned that local utilities have been providing very granular, extensive, and otherwise helpful use data. The way questions were answered by Cutler Cleveland and Michael Walsh (CFB Principal Investigator and Lead Modeler respectively) gives us every indication that the report will include options sufficiently aggressive and thoughtful to address the issue.
- Social Equity will be “woven through.” A Social Equity Advisory Group led by Dr. S. Atyia Martin has hit the ground running! They’re meeting regularly and working to ensure that the interests of disadvantaged populations are represented. In their words:
Disadvantaged populations …often have greater exposure to air pollution, environmental hazards and dangerous conditions, and they often face reduced access to basic energy services. Equitable access to affordable, safe, renewable energy must be a central theme in the City’s plan to reach carbon neutrality.
- Our voices will be needed soon to ensure action. After the CFB report is released this fall, the City will begin the process of deciding which options are worthy of inclusion in the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The report will not include recommendations, only options. All ideas, all policy comes with costs, some financial and some political. Regardless of the benefits to come, these costs may result in some of the best ideas not being adopted, funded or implemented. We must be ready to demonstrate political demand for climate action in November on the broad range of issues that the CFB report will address. We’re not sure what the process for updating Boston’s CAP will look like but we know that it will be during this period that community input will be most important.
*Boston has reduced GHG’s 12% over 10 years. data.boston.gov/dataset/greenhouse-gas-emissions .