Cities are where the battle to reduce carbon emissions will be won or lost. They host the majority of the world population, consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of all carbon dioxide emissions.
My city, Somerville, is out in front, driving to become “carbon neutral” (that is, for us as a community to emit net-zero carbon dioxide equivalents) by 2050. That’s a science-based target, as they say, which will be required for every city to achieve if we are to limit the worst effects of climate change. Mayor Curtatone made that pledge in 2014, joined the Compact of Mayors in 2015 and led the creation of a 14-city metro-Boston net-zero region in 2016. I’m proud to see my city lead. The city even has its own brand microsite: Sustainaville.
Today, I went to a presentation by the city on its carbon neutrality pathways. Basically, the city presented its modeling of how the city can move from its baseline emissions, measured in 2014, to net zero, in 36 years. From addressing building efficiency and moving power production to 100% renewables, to enabling district heating and reducing reliance on automobiles – everything is on the table. Here’s the thing: with all their reasonable assumptions on what might be possible, they still couldn’t get the model to show net zero by 2050. For that, it will take additional work, perhaps working with other municipalities or else driving more significant behavioral change among residents and businesses. I, for one, am going to move more aggressively to change my own energy mix and play my part for the city.