Carbon Free Boston: Summary report 2019
Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy
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PROJECT OVERVIEW: In 2016, Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed the Metro Mayors Climate Mitigation Commitment, pledging to make Boston carbon neutral by 2050, and asked the Boston Green Ribbon Commission (GRC) to establish a Working Group to support the City in the development of strategies to achieve carbon neutrality. In response to the Mayor’s request, the Green Ribbon Commission collaborated with the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University to develop Carbon Free Boston, a long-term framework for a carbon-neutral Boston that also supports short- and medium-term action.2 Carbon Free Boston was developed through comprehensive engagement with City staff, utilities, neighboring municipalities, regional authorities, state agencies, industry experts, and community representatives, among others, and was supported by comprehensive analysis using models that project feasible pathways to carbon neutrality by 2050. To ensure meaningful and actionable outcomes, we looked across scales and considered opportunities and challenges associated with specific actions at the city, state, and regional levels. We also addressed disparities in communities’ capacity both to mitigate climate damages and to benefit from the transition to a carbon-neutral city. The Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program reports that the northeast will be especially hard-hit by climate change. By mid-century, there will be 20 to 30 more days per year with a maximum temperature of more than 90°F (32°C), and the amount of precipitation in extreme events will increase by as much as 20 percent. The projected increases in extreme heat, intensive storms, and flooding will impact people’s health, property, and livelihoods, especially in socially vulnerable communities. To avoid the worst of these impacts, climate scientists call for a reduction in the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that drive climate change to a pace that keeps global temperature increases below 1.5°C, the highest increase that the Earth’s natural systems can tolerate before severe and irreversible changes occur. Meeting this commitment will require cities, including Boston, to achieve carbon neutrality, which means a 100 percent reduction in net GHG emissions by 2050.
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