Later this year, the City of Boston and the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy plan to release the findings of the Carbon Free Boston (CFB) Initiative with concrete recommendations on how to achieve Boston’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. Last June, CFB researchers released a preliminary report listing a wide range of options under consideration in the areas of energy, buildings, transportation, and waste.
To better understand and respond to the release of the Carbon Free Boston plan, BCANers have been educating each other through presentations and discussions during our bi-weekly Action Team meetings. The presentation about the energy sector was reviewed earlier (see the blog post from October 28 below). Here we summarize the presentation and discussions on the transportation sector.
In 2016 (latest data available) the transportation sector was responsible for about 29% of the greenhouse gas emissions from all sources in the city, up from 25% in 2015. It was also the sector with the least progress toward the 2020 goal of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it represents a major opportunity for progress toward achieving carbon reduction goals and eventually carbon neutrality.
The wide-ranging transportation policy options currently being considered by Carbon Free Boston include:
- Incentives for adopting electric vehicles
- Banning gasoline and diesel-fuel vehicles
- Promoting more carpooling or ride-sharing
- Improving bicycle and bus infrastructure
- Converting public transit and government fleets to no-carbon or low-carbon vehicles
- Requiring travel management plans for workplaces with more than 50 employees
BCAN has been discussing some of these options as we plan our areas of work in the coming year or two. At our October 11 action team meeting, one specific option we discussed was conversion to no-carbon (all-electric) buses on Boston bus routes.
Our discussion centered on using the following criteria for deciding which transportation policy options to support:
- How achievable are they in the short term?
- Who might be our allies?
- Will they positively impact environmental justice communities in the City?
- Might there be funding to support the planned policy?
We will continue this discussion at upcoming meetings, and will closely review the Carbon Free Boston plan when it is released. All of this work is now in the context of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which says “Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes . . . .” BCAN stands ready to work on such changes in Boston.