For almost a decade, adaptations to climate change and reduction of greenhouse gas emission have been some of Boston’s major goals. Considered to be one of the most sustainable cities in the nation, Boston is already over halfway to reaching the outlined goal in Boston’s Climate Action Plan-to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The city is well on its way, according to a Climate Action Plan update on the city’s official website, currently boasting a 14 percent reduction since 2005.
Recently, the city’s commitment to environmental responsibility has been recognized globally, and Boston was invited to join the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Cities are invited to join the organization based on population size, economic output, and commitment to and leadership in taking action on climate change. Originally founded in 2005 by former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the group is an invitation-only coalition of the world’s largest cities, working to implement meaningful and sustainable climate change locally in order to affect change on a global scale.
In 2006, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group formed a partnership with the Cities Program of former president Bill Clinton’s Climate Initiative. The two organizations work together to address climate risks and impacts and increase energy efficiency in cities around the world. The current chair is Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes, and former C40 Chair Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York serves as president of the C40 Board of Directors.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, has acknowledged that climate change has serious implications for the city, and he has expressed excitement to be named as the 67th city to become a member of C40.
“The City of Boston is proud to join the C40,” Walsh said in a press release. “Boston has set out to be an example to cities in the region and across the country in setting aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, preparing for unavoidable changes in climate, and working closely with our residents, businesses, and institutions to ensure that climate action promotes economic vitality and social equity.”
C40’s global field staff works directly with the governments of the cities within the group to facilitate effective change and active exchange across the world’s megacities. Walsh hopes that Boston’s new partnership with the organization will not only provide valuable insights and partnerships with other cities in the C40 network, but will also serve as an opportunity to share with the world what Boston has already done.
The Boston Climate Action Plan provides an outline for the city’s past and future endeavors in the fight to reduce emissions and prepare for climate change in the years to come. The plan stresses the importance of action by both the community and the individual. Boston has installed an extensive bike path network, and there are 50,000 fewer registered vehicles in the city than there were five years ago. Citizens have installed over 11 megawatts of solar energy in their homes, and the city has set a goal of 35 percent tree canopy coverage by 2020.
Although emissions have been reduced significantly in the past nine years, the switch from coal to natural gas brought about over 50 percent of that reduction. As a result, the city encourages citizens to turn off lights, utilize recycling receptacles, and lower thermostats by two degrees in the winter.