City of Austin celebrates 10 years of commitment to fight climate change

Real progress achieved in decade since first Climate Resolution

The City of Austin will celebrate 10 years of municipal leadership on the front lines of climate change on Feb. 16 with several events including premiering a video about how climate change is impacting Austin.

The three-minute animated video provides simple steps everyone can take to do their part toward sustainable living to lessen environmental impact. The video, produced in English and Spanish, can be accessed at www.austintexas.gov/climate.

The webpage also includes tip sheets with links to City of Austin programs, incentives and rebates, plus a carbon calculator to determine your footprint.

To commemorate the decade since the Austin City Council took formal action on climate change, the current Council will issue a proclamation during its meeting Feb. 16.

On Feb. 15, 2007, the Council under the leadership of Mayor Will Wynn, unanimously adopted a resolution to make Austin “the leading city in the nation in the effort to reduce the negative impacts of global warming.”

Wynn is expected to accept Thursday’s proclamation.

“I was – and continue to be – of the opinion that Austin is an indispensable city in this fight,” Wynn said recently.  “Some of the things that give us an edge include the fact that Austin owns our own electric utility, is a significant technology hub focused on innovation, and has a citizenry that recognizes the problem and demands that we do something about it,” Wynn said.

Since 2007, Austin’s progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions includes:

  • Municipal greenhouse gas emissions from City of Austin operations have been reduced by 75% from the 2007 baseline. Many of these reductions come from 100% renewable energy that powers all City-owned buildings and facilities through Austin Energy’s GreenChoice® program. Greenchoice® continues to be one of the largest and most successful voluntary renewable energy subscription programs in the country.

 

  • Today, 31% of Austin Energy’s supply mix comes from renewables like wind and solar, compared to approximately 4% in 2007. Over the past thirty years, Austin Energy has provided over 600,000 energy efficiency rebates and services. Partnerships with Austin Water Utility, Austin Fire Department and Neighborhood Housing afforded services and weatherization for 18,000 low income homes; Austin Energy Green Building rated 13,000 homes and 400 businesses and over 6,000 customers have installed solar through the incentive program.

 

  • Austin Resource Recovery led the adoption of the Universal Recycling Ordinance, which will require affected property owners to ensure that tenants and employees have access to convenient recycling. It also requires food-permitted enterprises to include organics diversion.

 

  • Austin adopted the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan, with two Priority Programs that will help to reduce vehicle-related miles and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in a “compact and connected” Austin will reduce traffic congestion. The rewrite of the City’s Land Development Code through the CodeNext process will give more people the opportunity to live near transit and within walking distance of amenities.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler attended the 2015 United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, as well as the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City late last year.

“Austin has joined cities from around the world to fight climate change,” Adler said. “With the vast majority of the world’s population residing in urban cities, our accomplishments are leading the way for local leaders to make a difference globally.”

In 2015, City Council adopted the Austin Community Climate Plan to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Many of the actions we are taking that contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions also have many other benefits,” said Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Achieving net-zero emissions will ensure a safe, healthy, affordable and thriving community for many generations to come.”

Climate protection efforts for the coming years include these actions and goals:

  • 55% of Austin Energy’s supply mix is on target to come from renewable sources by 2025.
  • All food permitted businesses will include organics diversion services by 2019, and residential curbside organics collection will be expanded citywide by 2020.
  • 330 electric vehicles will be integrated into the City’s fleet by 2020.
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About the Office of Sustainability
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability was established in September 2010, when Lucia Athens, a leader in sustainability and green building, was hired as the Chief Sustainability Officer. The Office works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a healthy and just local food system, resource efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. To find out more, visit www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.

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