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We're updating our Climate Action Plan

October 2, 2018

Environment

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Environment

It’s time to update our Climate Action Plan — Boston’s blueprint for reaching its goals to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The City of Boston is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Boston’s Climate Action Plan is how we’re going to significantly reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. The current update to Boston’s Climate Action Plan was the result of a community-led process to identify the actions we need to take to achieve that goal. Now, we need to understand how. 

We’re issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to facilitators, designers, and technical experts to help us create an implementation roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality. We’re looking for the answers to what we do now, what we do next, and what each of those steps looks like along the way. 

If you’re interested in submitting a proposal or are curious about our process, please read our Request for Proposals. We will accept questions about the RFP up until Tuesday, October 9. On that same day at 10 a.m. (EST) we will host a question and answer conference call that is optional for those who are submitting proposals. Submissions to the RFP are due Friday, October 26, 2018.

What we're looking for

We have some tough decisions ahead if we want to reach our climate goals. During the process to update Boston’s Climate Action Plan, we want to work with key partners and community groups to develop implementation roadmaps for our highest-priority actions. Through this RFP, we’re looking for skilled facilitators who can guide those conversations and help create roadmaps that will steer implementation of the City’s next steps over the coming years.

In our RFP, we're asking that submissions lay out a thoughtful, creative and equitable approach to the update process. We know that climate change is going to hit our most vulnerable residents the hardest. Consultant teams will need to show how their proposal engages our diverse communities and results in a final plan that not only advances our climate goals, but is also fair and accessible.
Read our Request for Proposals

Download the RFP

Learn about Boston's bidding process and access the supplier portal:

Procurement Information

GET INVOLVED
NEW REPORT

Read the October 2018 report, "Boston GHG Inventory (2005-2016)."

Inventory Report

Methodology

Current progress toward carbon neutrality

We measure and track Boston’s citywide greenhouse gas emissions, and inventory the source of those emissions. 
We are sharing our 2016 greenhouse gas emissions report, which includes the most recent analysis of climate data. Overall, our emissions are decreasing as Boston continues to grow. But a large part of that decrease is due to a cleaner electric grid and a warmer winter than recent recorded years. While we’ve made progress, we need to accelerate to reach our 2050 carbon neutrality goal.
Boston Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2005-2016
Some key takeaways from the data:
  • Our emissions decreased 18 percent from 2005 to 2016.
  • We emitted 8 percent less carbon in 2016 than in 2015. This is largely due to natural weather variations. The year 2016 was the warmest since 2012, so we burned less natural gas and heating oil to heat our homes and businesses.
  • 71 percent of our emissions came from energy use in buildings. We need to make our buildings more energy-efficient and to power them with cleaner energy to reach carbon neutrality.
  • Transportation accounted for 29 percent of emissions in 2016. And total transportation emissions have held steady since 2005. Although cars get better mileage than they did in 2005, Boston is growing and driving more. To get to carbon neutrality, we have to change how we get around and how we fuel our vehicles.
  • Most of our progress since 2005 has come from a greener electricity grid. Other factors include getting rid of heating oil, switching to natural gas, and using fuel-efficient vehicles.

Our progress towards carbon neutrality is in line with many other leading cities. Boston is one of 27 world cities that have already peaked their emissions. Some of the other American cities on that list are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington. We will continue to collaborate with other cities to limit global warming and protect our communities.

You can learn more about our greenhouse gas inventory. We have also updated the greenhouse gas emissions data available for download on Analyze Boston, the City’s open data hub. As with all Analyze Boston datasets, we encourage you to explore the numbers.

Carbon Free Boston

Carbon Free Boston is the City’s long-term initiative to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. We’re partnering with the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and Boston University's Institute for Sustainable Energy to analyze the different policy and technical options to reach that goal. The project results will help us identify key next steps to cut emissions to include in the update to our Climate Action Plan. The report will provide insight to big questions, such as:

  • Buildings: How impactful would a net zero policy for new construction be? How does that compare to other options such as electrifying our heating systems? How will these changes affect electricity demand? How much electricity can we generate with rooftop solar panels?
  • Transportation: What role can clean vehicles play in reducing emissions? What about autonomous vehicles? What if all autonomous vehicles are also clean vehicles? How does travel pricing, like parking costs, affect emissions? What are the potential health and safety benefits of reducing tailpipe emissions?
  • Waste: How does waste reduction and recycling affect emissions? How could reducing trash help Bostonians save money? How can waste collectors reduce emissions? What are the tradeoffs of composting?
  • Energy: How close do state clean energy laws get us to carbon neutrality? What are the trade-offs of different renewable energy purchase policies?

The Carbon Free Boston research team will finish their analysis soon and release their results in a report later this year. Since our last project update, the team analyzed our building, transportation and waste data. After a last round of meetings with technical experts, they are finalizing their report, which will include:

  • A summary of key takeaways, including the highest impact policies, costs and benefits.
  • A full, technical report that details the method used and the sector models.

Share your thoughts

As we head into our Climate Action Plan update, we’re always looking for ideas to help us reach Boston’s climate goals. If you have any suggestions or questions on the work we’re doing, please email us at greenovate@boston.gov.

Greenovate Boston is Mayor Walsh’s initiative to get all Bostonians involved in eliminating the pollution that causes global climate change, while continuing to make Boston a healthy, thriving, and innovative city. Greenovate works with the broader community to carry out the City’s Climate Action Plan, our roadmap to become carbon neutral by 2050.