In 2016, Climate Solutions completed the seventh and final year of our successful New Energy Cities program. Combining research on urban carbon reduction best practices and partnering with Northwest cities and counties, we helped local communities accelerate carbon emissions reduction through climate and clean energy goal-setting, clean energy transition planning, policy development, program design, and implementation.
Our New Energy Cities program continued to work with the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C), a voluntary coalition of King County and 13 cities united in their goal to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 supporting efforts to get underway with achieving its 90% renewable electricity by 2030. New Energy Cities formed a partnership with Stockholm Environment Institute to provide energy maps and carbon wedge analyses for Everett, WA (Snohomish County) and Olympia, WA (Thurston County). Our existing partnership with Tukwila, WA showed encouraging progress, with city leadership and staff eager to make deep carbon reductions in their community.
Climate Solutions is proud of New Energy Cities and its seven years of success. Although we phased out the program at the end of 2016, Climate Solutions will continue to help our city and county partners create political momentum to inform policy and drive carbon emissions reduction at the state and regional levels.
Urban leaders are looking beyond their typical toolbox of policies, programs, and partnerships, and experimenting with new approaches to achieve carbon reduction through cleaner energy supply, building energy efficiency, and low-carbon transportation.
In the early days of climate action, urban plans to reduce carbon frequently suffered from the laundry list syndrome: cataloguing potential strategies without any evidence of how they would meet long-term goals. Since then, cities and counties have become more sophisticated about cutting carbon, and are developing clean energy transition plans to do it.
Leading urban governments have set aggressive goals such as carbon neutrality and 80% reduction by 2050, and others have committed to sourcing 100% of their energy with renewables. These are not empty pledges, but achievable goals that local officials are already implementing.
In December 2015, international leaders will gather in Paris for what are arguably the most important global climate talks ever. Countries are updating their carbon reduction pledges, which currently fall far short of what is necessary to hold global warming at two degrees Celsius. This represents an ambition gap among national negotiators that the bold climate leadership of city officials around the world can help close.
Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson once named energy efficiency the “silent hero” in the climate crisis. Republican Governor Butch Otter of Idaho called efficiency the “low hanging fruit in the energy orchard.” We know that a key way to reduce our climate pollution is to reduce our energy demand. By reducing energy use, we also save money on our utility bills. So why are there still barriers to homeowners embracing deep energy efficiency?