Boston Mayor Walsh Releases Plan to Accelerate Carbon Emissions Goal

Among the initiatives are investing in energy saving improvements to city-owned buildings

Investing in energy-saving improvements to city-owned buildings and developing new guidelines for major building projects are among the ways Boston will become carbon-neutral by 2050, according to a plan released Tuesday by Mayor Marty Walsh.

The update to the city's Climate Action Plan, which was last revised in 2014, will significantly cut carbon emissions from buildings, which account for about 70% of citywide emissions, he said.

The Democratic mayor said the city is already taking steps to address emissions from city-owned buildings, including energy-saving projects at 14 municipal buildings, including libraries, community centers, and police and fire stations.

Going forward, he said, all new city-owned buildings will be designed to be "carbon neutral," which the mayor's plan defines as releasing no net carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Other steps in the plan call for the development of new building and zoning standards to encourage large building owners to take measures to cut down on carbon emissions, such as installing electric appliances rather than those that use coal, oil or natural gas.

Elsewhere, Walsh said he plans to transition the city's vehicle fleet to low-emission vehicles and develop new guidelines for city-backed affordable housing projects with climate change in mind.

Walsh said the updated plan will contribute to the greenhouse gas reduction goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, which the U.S. withdrew from when President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

Boston is among more than 200 U.S. cities dedicated to adhering to the 2016 accords. Walsh is also among the leaders of an international climate summit for mayors in Copenhagen, Denmark, that starts Wednesday.

At a speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, Walsh also addressed his administration's efforts to protect the famously landfilled city from the impacts of rising seas and flooding due to climate change.

Walsh noted the city is building new waterfront parks and open spaces that will help provide buffers for neighborhoods like Boston's booming but low-lying Seaport District that's already seeing regular flooding.

He also said the city passed a capital plan in July that dedicates 10% of spending to resilience projects, an investment he intends to make every year.

"Climate change is the defining challenge of our time," Walsh said in a statement. "As a coastal city, Boston is at the frontlines of this global crisis. While national action is at a standstill, cities like Boston are leading with plans, solutions and results."

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