Ann Arbor's Bold Plan to be Climate Neutral by 2030 - 2.1 Million Metric Tons of CO2e Targeted for Elimination
On November 4th, 2019 Ann Arbor's City Council declared a city-wide climate emergency, and announced that city leaders would draft a plan to move the city to climate neutral status by 2030.
Staying committed to those plans, an initial draft report was made public in late March 2020. We've summarized some of the key initiatives below from the 99 page document. For a copy of the full plan please go here.
The draft plan from JOOB's home town of Ann Arbor starts out by laying out the CO2 emissions from 2018. It's similar to how a household may lay out their emissions - see JOOB's blog posts on measuring household emissions here. Ann Arbor was already ahead of most cities and individuals since they have been quantifying their carbon emissions - so obtaining this information was easier than if the city had to start from scratch.
Why Go Climate Neutral?
Before diving into ways to reduce emissions, the city lays out key reasons for moving to climate neutral with key facts from impacts on climate change locally:
- Average annual temperature in Ann Arbor has already increased nearly 1 degrees F since the 1900s. And temperatures are expected to rise by 3-7 degrees F more by 2050.
- Ann Arbor is projected to have 12-36 more days per year above 90 degrees F by 2050 and 30-42 more by end of the century.
- Average annual precipitation has increased by 44% since the 1950s and continues to rise.
- The total amount of rain falling during extreme events has increased by 37% since 1981.
The city uses these metrics as the basis on why to move forward while at the same time realizing that it will take all community members to successfully move to a climate neutral status.
Key Strategies for Moving to Climate Neutral
In the draft report the city lays out 7 major strategies in its drive to being climate neutral, and presents the graphic below to highlight the key areas:
- Powering Ann Arbor's Grid with 100% Renewable Energy (41% of our CO2e footprint) - Ann Arbor is looking to programs such as a pool purchase for the city's electrical needs through renewable energy sources along with household and community solar programs that can be implemented over time.
- Switching Appliances and Vehicles from Gas to Electric (23% of our CO2e footprint) - The move to electric cars, buses and the infrastructure to support them are a big portion of this strategy. And the change from natural gas to electric in heating our homes and running appliances is another element of this change. Incorporating the University of Michigan in this initiative would drive additional impact.
- Improving the Energy Efficiencies of Homes and Businesses (13.4% of our CO2e footprint) - Many homes and businesses have room for improving how energy is consumed, and building codes need to upgraded to include updated energy efficiency standards.
- Reduce the Miles we Travel in our Vehicles by 50% (8% of our CO2e footprint) - Regardless of the type of vehicle we drive, the city is looking to improve infrastructure to enable more use of public transit, bikes, and walk-friendly zones to reduce the amount of driving we do on a day to day basis.
- Changing How we Use, Re-Use, and Dispose of Materials (.3% of our CO2e footprint) - The city is looking to increase the amount of commercial recycling and increasing composting capabilities. In addition, developing standards for the use of sustainable materials in buildings will be incorporated.
- Enhancing the Resilience of our People and Place (.1% of our CO2e footprint) - This strategy includes the enhancement of our tree canopy along with resilience hubs to provide a community based facility network when dealing with climate hazards and our response capability.
- Other - (~14% of our CO2e footprint) Included in this strategy is the purchase of offsets which cover emissions that may be unavoidable or technically infeasible of eliminating during the time frame. An internal carbon tax will also be used as a means of costing city initiatives and pricing carbon emissions for services and rewarding carbon reducing initiatives across the city.
Mayor Christopher Taylor lays out in the introduction of the plan:
Even during the COVID-19 global pandemic, we face no greater threat than climate change.
Carbon neutrality means that we must adopt new land use strategies and break our dependence on internal combustion engine vehicles. It means that we must power our homes, businesses, vehicles, and recreational sites with 100% renewable energy. It means that we must change the way we interact with materials and resources. It means that we must reinvest in our relationships with our vulnerable neighbors, elders, and youth. We must rethink an Ann Arbor that is open and accessible to all.
It's an ambitious plan, and JOOB looks forward to supporting its implementation. As a Climate Neutral certified organization, JOOB has advocated for business leaders to move towards quantifying, reducing, and offsetting their emissions in order to be climate neutral, and encourage individuals and communities to move in this direction. It's the only way we can mitigate the impacts of climate change and help our planet breathe.
Visit a2Zero.org for more information on Ann Arbor's plans for going climate neutral.
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