A Major Climate Milestone

Climate Change
Image from the City of Austin's Office of Sustainability

Austin marked an important anniversary last week. February 15th was the 10th anniversary of the approval of the Austin Climate Protection Plan. Originally created in 2007 under the leadership of then-Mayor Will Wynn, the plan aimed to “make Austin the leading city in the nation in the effort to reduce the negative impacts of global warming.”

Now that a decade has passed, the question is – how are we doing?

Here’s what we’ve achieved:

  • In 2007, four percent of our electricity came from renewables. Today, that number is 31 percent, and we are on track to receive 55 percent of our energy from renewables by 2025.
  • In 2011, the City of Austin achieved its goal of powering all city-owned buildings and facilities with 100 percent renewable energy, setting an example for the rest of the community.
  • The amount of greenhouse gases emitted per person in Austin is down by nine percent from 2007.
  • Austin is on track to reach its first interim greenhouse gas reduction target of 11.2million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020. That will represent a 20 percent reduction in emissions from 2010.
  • In 2015, Austin City Council approved the new Austin Community Climate Plan, which set a goal of net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emission by 2050.

 


Here’s what we still need to do:

Austin has achieved many of its emission reduction goals, but it still has a long way to go and scientists say there is no time to waste. Energy use is responsible for about half of Austin’s greenhouse gas emissions, and so far, our city’s electric utility (Austin Energy) has done a pretty good job reducing emissions and creating a plan to reduce them even further.

Austin Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Austin’s greenhouse gas emission sources

The major area where Austin still needs help is transportation, which is responsible for a third of our city’s greenhouse gas emissions. That is a number that needs to be reduced if Austin is ever going to reach its climate goals… and it is also the number that seems the most difficult to tackle. Several local environmental leaders are currently working on developing a plan to dramatically reduce our community’s emissions from transportation, like we have already done for energy.

But, in the meantime, the city’s Office of Sustainability has published several tips to help you reduce your own personal carbon footprint. They include beginner, intermediate, and advanced actions, so that you can work your way up to significant emission reductions.

Tips for Reducing Emissions

Some of the biggest transportation-related tips include:

  • Commit to riding the bus to work at least one day a week
  • Incorporate walking or biking into your daily routine
  • Purchase an electric vehicle
  • Become a zero- or one-car family

Want to learn more? The Office of Sustainability has just published a new animated video on Austin’s climate change achievements and goals. The video ends with a call for individual action. It says, “Let’s do our part to stop climate change in the world we live in by starting with the city we love.” You can watch it here>>

Net Zero by 2050

image from the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability

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