On October 3rd, Boston’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) Steering Committee met for the third and final time to create Boston’s plan for reaching its carbon reduction and climate preparedness goals. In this blog series, we’ll review the goals and targets, plus provide a sneak preview to the draft strategies for just how we, as Bostonians, can reach Boston’s citywide carbon reduction goals.


The 2014 CAP Update Steering Committee, as well as the sub-committees, have been working hard over the past eight months to update Boston’s plan to reduce emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. At last Friday’s meeting, the third and final of the group, Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, spoke on Boston’s progress, and what Boston needs to do reach its goals.

The good news is that Boston is heading in the right direction—greenhouse gas emissions across the city are down 15.5% since 2005.


Most of our progress so far has come from fuel switching at our power plants—the conversion of coal and oil to cleaner burning natural gas. But with most coal and oil out of the electricity supply, we need to make real changes to the way we use energy in our homes, at work, and to get around.

However, that 15.5% drop also tells human stories that get us pretty darned excited about the future. Boston’s home insulation programs have allowed residents like Sinh Trinh to save thousands of dollars in heating costs. Changing cultural norms, the rise of car-sharing companies, and younger residents like Kathryn Carlson showcase the rise of pedal power and sharing, not just in Boston, but around the country. And large buildings like Massachusetts General Hospital, which keeps lights, medical equipment, heat, as well as our health and economy running 24/7, are finding that simple ideas like smarter ventilation systems are improving customer service while saving millions of dollars in health costs each year.

While it would be far too early to declare victory, the City has at least outlined what we need to do to reach our goal of a 25% reduction by 2020 (and then some—we’re actually aiming for 27.5% just in case there’s an especially cold year or not everything goes according to plan). The graph and table below shows today’s emissions (2013) and how much each wedge needs to be reduced in order to reach our goal.


The next post in this series will dive deeper into the Neighborhood slice of the pie. Get a sneak preview and give us feedback on the Neighborhood strategies on Engage.GreenovateBoston.org. Spoiler alert: if you haven’t gotten your free home energy assessment, we’ll be looking for you between now and 2020.

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