Social equity and technical reports expand on summary report and highlight Boston’s challenges and opportunities when engaging communities in climate action initiatives
BOSTON, MA (May 15, 2019) – The Boston Green Ribbon Commission today unveiled two new reports that will help to inform the City’s ongoing Climate Action Plan update with detailed analysis and potential pathways to reduce carbon pollution and create an equitable, thriving and resilient Boston. The companion social equity report and technical report augment key aspects of the original Carbon Free Boston Summary Report. The Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy led the research and analysis, with a team from All Aces and the Applied Economics Clinic spearheading the social equity companion report.
“By matching our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 with our commitment to build a resilient Boston, this report presents our City with the opportunity to demonstrate comprehensive and sustained climate leadership,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Boston will build upon our existing work to ensure that every resident’s voice is heard as we continue our climate action and resiliency planning.”
The companion social equity report details how action taken toward carbon neutrality, which will fundamentally transform the city’s buildings, transportation, waste and energy systems, could potentially affect socially vulnerable populations. The companion technical report provides comprehensive tables, data and analysis based on extensive research combined with specific data from various City of Boston agencies, which have informed and support the overall Carbon Free Boston findings.
“Achieving carbon neutrality is not merely about reducing emissions; it is a public health, economic and social equity imperative,” said John Cleveland, Executive Director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission. “These companion reports build on the original Carbon Free Boston summary report by shining a light on the incredible opportunity ahead of us to address historic inequities while creating a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous City for all those who live and work in Boston.”
Three themes defined the framework for the equity analysis: 1) careful planning to avoid unintended consequences, 2) intentional design with a clear focus on equity outcomes, and 3) inclusive practices from start to finish in all decision making.
“Our assessment of equity in the context of GHG reduction began with this concept of social vulnerability, broadly defined as the lack of capacity to withstand hard times – that is, to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies such as a missed paycheck, illness, a high utility bill, or the effects of a natural disaster,” said Dr. Atyia Martin, co-author of the social equity report, CEO & Founder of All Aces, Inc., and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. “While socially vulnerable populations are exposed to the greatest risks from climate change and new action taken to reduce GHG emissions, they also have the most to gain from those actions if we are intentional about embedding equity. There are huge health and wealth building opportunities including improved public health, cost savings on utility bills, improved living conditions and property values, and new pathways to workforce development and entrepreneurship.”
Like the summary report, the social equity report’s findings were broken out by Buildings, Transportation, Waste and Energy – some highlights include:
The companion technical report provides insight and data supporting the three main recommendations of Carbon Free Boston: 1) deepen energy efficiency while reducing demand, 2) electrify as much as possible, and 3) purchase 100 percent clean energy.
You can find the full social equity and technical reports at http://sites.bu.edu/cfb/carbon-free-boston-report-released, and the Carbon Free Boston Summary report at https://www.greenribboncommission.org/document/executive-summary-carbon-free-boston/.
The City of Boston is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 and most recently began the process to update its Climate Action Plan. The update will provide an implementation roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality in Boston, identifying the immediate next steps Boston must take to reach its goals. As a leading city on climate action, the City was named a winner of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge as Boston works to strengthen and accelerate its progress toward reducing carbon emissions. This work builds on Mayor Walsh’s recent vision plan for a Resilient Boston Harbor for all. This comprehensive and transformative vision calls for investing in Boston’s waterfront to protect against the impacts of rising sea level and climate change. The Mayor’s plan lays out strategies along Boston’s 47-mile shoreline that will increase access and open space along the waterfront while better protecting the city during a major flooding event.
About the Boston Green Ribbon Commission
The Boston Green Ribbon Commission is a group of business, institutional and civic leaders in Boston supporting the implementation of the city’s Climate Action Plan. The plan includes strong recommendations on how Bostonians can increase efficiency, reduce emissions and prepare for extreme weather and higher sea levels. Many cities have produced similar plans, but few have also enlisted the support and leadership of the local business community as effectively as Boston, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more, visit www.greenribboncommission.org or follow us on Twitter.