The City Council adopted the Cambridge Climate Protection Plan in December 2002. Both the state and the city have adopted a goal of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Per our participation in the Compact of Mayors, the City will begin developing an updated Climate Action Plan in 2016.
The City’s planning around climate change focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When Cambridge began to draft its initial Climate Protection Plan, staff evaluated the relative sizes of the various sources of emissions. The City already had extensive transportation and recycling programs that worked to reduce the community’s generation of greenhouse gases. However, we found that most of our emissions are related to buildings, and we did not have programs to reduce building energy use.
The Climate Protection Plan, therefore, focuses largely on actions around building-related energy. The Cambridge Energy Alliance was one important initiative. Other building energy initiatives target both existing buildings—much of the City’s building stock is relatively old and inefficient—and new construction, with more stringent energy efficiency requirements. And in 2015, the Net Zero Action Plan was adopted to set Cambridge on the trajectory to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.