The measure of climate protection
As the international community met in Copenhagen last month seeking consensus on environmental actions, organizations like Boston-based ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability were there to show the results of local governments’ efforts to reduce emissions.
ICLEI recently released its “Measuring Up” report, examining the progress and needs of its 600 members in the United States and worldwide. “Local governments are moving beyond symbolic things and doing things that can be quantified,” says Meleah Houseknecht, ICLEI senior membership officer. “We can look at what’s happening, and there are real numbers.”
The report singles out the work of some members, such as Gainesville, Fla., which implemented a solar feed-in tariff to promote solar projects among residents and businesses; Boston, which has instituted a green building zoning code; and Olympia, Wash., which has saved 17,719 gallons of gas and $49,274 since 2004 through its “Green Fleet Policy.”
Gainesville, Fla., began working closely with ICLEI in 2005, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan says. The city uses ICLEI’s software and technical support to catalog and track emissions from year to year. Gainesville’s total carbon emissions went from 1, 926,560 metric tons of CO2 equivalents in 1990 to 1,992,979 in 2008. But, with the new programs the city has put in place since 2006, Hanrahan expects to meet their 2013 goal of 1,586,910 metric tons, a reduction of more than 400,000 metric tons. “That’s not bad considering we have experienced tremendous growth,” Hanrahan says.
So far, more than one-third of ICLEI members have conducted baseline emissions inventories, and 155 members have set emissions reduction targets, according to “Measuring Up.” Combined, they have committed to reducing at least 1.36 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions during the next 10 years.
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.
Several ICLEI members have reported reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions.
Broward County, Fla., reduced emissions by 62,491 metric tons of CO2 annually between 1997 and 2007.
Fort Collins, Colo., reported that municipal emissions had dropped by 0.7 percent in 2008 from 2005 levels.
King County, Wash.’s latest Climate Report showed that in 2007 the county reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by more than 6 percent below year 2000 levels.