Austin Net Zero 2050
The process to update the Austin Community Climate Plan for 2020 has started. A steering committee and several working groups will be working on the next 5 year plan including a review of the targets facing the urgency to deal with climate change. Expect a heavy focus on transportation as it is the largest greenhouse gas emission source in Travis County.
We met with the City Manager and the General Manager at Austin Energy to discuss the need for a planning process to meet our reduction goals for transportation, the largest source of emissions in the city as of this year. They agreed for leadership at Austin Energy, the Transportation Department and the Office of Sustainability to draft a proposal for responsibilities and a planning process.
City council has approved the recommended Generation Plan for Austin Energy, the city owned municipal utility, that builds on earlier success adding another 10% renewables to get to 65% by 2027, which would make the utility about 85% greenhouse gas free. A lot of good other targets for energy efficiency, storage, local solar etc.etc.
City council made sure to add several studies for do even more, and very exciting: a lot of study, prepwork, planning etc. is requested to prepare for the mass adoption of electric vehicles and the impacts on the utility business model it will have.
Download the resolution here
City council has asked the Transportation Department to develop a plan to “”The New Mobility EV/AV Plan” should include measurable interim greenhouse gas reduction targets to support the goal set by City Council Resolution No. 20140410-024 of reaching NET-ZERO community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, or sooner if feasible, that includes a 20% overall reduction goal by 2020 and, procedures for when and how annual progress reports will occur.” The plan is due October 2017.
Download the resolution here
Austin Energy told the Electric Utility Commission that it is no longer pursuing a new 500MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant. This will prevent a billion dollars of money going to fossil fuels and the emission of 50 million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide emissions from the power plant for 30 years of operations. That is equivalent to more than 3 times the total annual emission for the City of Austin.
City council voted for Austin Energy to contract 450MW of solar now and 150MW additional operational by 2019. This makes Austin Energy the solar leader in Texas. It will produce 1.5 TWh of energy per year and save over 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses over the contract terms. It reduces the footprint of the city by 6%. Look at all these advocates speaking, celebrating, working with council to move the ball up the field.
City council adopts the Austin Community Climate Plan with an 8-2 vote. This establishes goals for 2020, 2030, 2040 from a baseline of 2010 to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It creates a Sustainability committee to oversee the implementation. It has the City departments Austin Energy, Austin Resource Recovery and the Transportation Department prioritize the first 9 out of 130 action for this coming year. It asks for an implementation plan for all 60 actions that are identified with a 2015-2020 timeframe. The Mayor will renew the membership to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and he will also join the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda.
1. Listen to Shades of Green, with host John Hoffner and Reed Sternberg chatting with the three co-chairs for the Community Climate Steering Committee starting a time stamp 12.25. Hear about the plan and the making of it from Al Armendariz, Senior Campaign Representative, National Sierra Club, Francois Levy, Levy Kohlhaas Architecture and Joep Meijer, Founder, Climate Buddies: click here.
2. The AustinEcoNetwork created Last year, Austin’s City Council made a big decision. They decided to go zero. In this podcast, AEN Editor Amy Stansbury looks into the goal set by Austin City Council to make Austin a carbon free community by the year 2050. She explores what it will take for Austin to truly get to zero greenhouse gas emissions, primarily by taking a deep dive into the new Austin Community Climate Plan. The resulting 13 minute podcast explains the 2015 Austin Community Climate Plan. You will hear what it is, how it works, why it is feasible and how you can contribute. 13 minutes well spend! You can read the accompanying blog here
The “Austin Community Climate Protection Plan – achieving NET ZERO emissions” is sent to city council for review and discussing in the City Council Open Space, Environment and Sustainability Committee.
The City of Austin is committed to protecting the long-term health and viability of our community through strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. In recognition of this commitment, on April 10, 2014, City Council passed Resolution 20140410-024 directing the City Manager to create an action plan to meet the goal of community-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, or sooner if feasible.
The Resolution specified working with stakeholders from each major sector responsible for community-wide greenhouse gas emissions in Austin including Energy, Transportation, and Waste/Industrial sectors. A Steering Committee of community stakeholders and four Technical Advisory Groups covering the major emissions sectors and made up of community members as well as city staff from Austin Energy, Austin Resource Recovery, Austin Transportation Department, and the Office of Sustainability met between June 2014 and March 2015 to collaboratively create the Austin Community Climate Plan. Community input was also collected over the past year through Speakup Austin, a community survey, open meetings, two charrettes, and presentations to Boards and Commissions. The plan contains over 130 actions that will help meet the net-zero target. Download it here.
Press on the work of the Office of Sustainability and the Climate Protection Plan: Statesman 05-11-2015
City Council asked Austin Energy to retire our biggest and oldest coal and gas
power plants and to add 600MW of solar to our generation portfolio. This means a cut in emissions of over 50% by 2025 compared to 2005.
The City of Austin is planning to get to NET ZERO greenhouse gas emissions and wants your to hear your suggestions and feedback. Give it a go, your voice will be heard by at staff of the Office of Sustainability, City of Austin and all the members of the Community Climate Steering Committee. Please fill out this online survey.
City Council passed two resolutions setting a NET ZERO greenhouse gas goal for 2030 for Austin Energy and making utility scale solar the source of electricity for new generation in the coming years while making sure that lower income households are not left behind. It provides stipulations for more local solar, third party leasing, value of solar and more. It will invest billions of dollars in renewable energy and not in more fossil fuel powered generation and it will lower rates. Thank you Chris Riley, Mike Martinez, Sheryl Cole, Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo for your votes, and especially to Chris Riley and Kathie Tovo for your leadership and writing the resolutions. One third of our greenhouse gas emissions will be of the table in 15 years from now. Think of all the clean air and water that we get on top of that.
The Austin Generation Resource Planning Taskforce published its recommendations for city council how to generate electricity by Austin Energy. Austin Energy is responsible for about 33% of all the greenhouse gas emissions in Travis County. All recommendations get us closer to achieving a NET ZERO utility, the most important recommendations is to reach that goal by 2030 and to make utility solar our primary new generation resource up to 2024. Read the full report with recommendations here
The Climate Community Steering Committee and four technical advisory groups have been installed to develop a first implamentation plan of the NET ZERO CITY WIDE goal. Read all about the groups, agendas and more on this site of the Office of Sustainability. All meetings are open to the public and you can speak up at the beginning if you want to be heard.
We did it! As Council member Chris Riley said during the press conference on April 11th, 2014: “Big thanks to all the environmental community leaders who joined us at City Hall today in support of the Climate Protection Plan! This initiative re-establishes Austin as a world leader on climate change with the goal of zero net emissions by 2050. I’m proud to have sponsored this resolution, and look forward to working with the community to make this vision a reality”.
Austin passed a resolution saying: “The City Council establishes a goal of reaching net zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and prefers to achieve this goal as soon as it is feasible. The City Council also recognizes that emissions reductions accomplished sooner are more important and valuable for our city’s climate protection efforts.
This means that all organizations and all people will have to be part of a community wide effort to get to Zero Greenhouse Gas emissions as soon as we can.
We at Climate Buddies have worked with council to create the political will and the drafting of the resolution, but we could not have done it without the council members that sponsored the resolution Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole and Bill Spelman and the votes of Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison and Kathy Tovo, and the help of the environmental community of the Adaptation International, the Austin EcoNetwork, Environment Texas, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas Drougth Project and Stefan Wary. We want to thank Lucia Athens, the Chief Sustainability Office of the City of Austin and Zach Baumer the Austin Climate Protection Plan manager for their help in being instrumental in getting the support of all the City stakeholders.
Now it is up to you, us, the community to help make this ambition a reality.
The full text of the resolution can be read here