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Charlottesville Takes Another Step Towards Climate Action
Climate protection Program Manager
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The City of Charlottesville has completed another step in its commitment to addressing climate change by formally submitting its newly adopted greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction goal as part of 2019 reporting cycle on its Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy commitment. The new reduction goal is a 45% reduction by 2030 interim target, from its 2011 inventory year, and the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Adoption of a new goal is timely, as the City’s 2016 emissions showed Charlottesville had surpassed its previous goal and new recommendations for reduction targets were released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the fall of 2018. The Global Covenant of Mayors commitment that the City joined in 2017 requires adoption of a reduction target aligned with the scale of need presented by climate change. The new goal was adopted unanimously by the Charlottesville City Council on July 1, 2019 after being informed by two public input periods and a previous presentation to City Council on a draft goal.
Adoption of this goal demonstrates Charlottesville rising to meet the challenge posed by climate change and the City’s commitment to being part of global, national, state, and local efforts to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.
What is the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy Commitment?
In June 2017, City Council committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy as part of a Response to the U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The June 2017 commitment built on previous commitments and existing efforts of the City through its Climate Protection Program, which was established in 2007. Updates on the City’s activities following this commitment were presented to City Council on November 19, 2018 (Item 5. Report) and May 6, 2019 (Item 8. Resolution).
The Covenant commitment includes two tracks of climate action activities that are sequenced into three phases each. One track (Mitigation) focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thereby aiming to reduce how severe the effects of climate change will be. The other track (Adaptation) focuses on preparing communities to live in a different climate than they are used to and strengthen community systems to be able to respond as climate hazards – such as flooding, severe heat, or tornados – become more frequent. The adopted reduction goal completes Phase 2 of the Mitigation portion of the commitment. The City is in the initial stages of Phase 2 for the Adaptation portion and will be integrating new guidance requirements into its process prior to beginning community engagement on this topic in the fall.
The City of Charlottesville annually submits updates on its commitment through a reporting platform used by communities worldwide called CDP. CDP and the Global Covenant of Mayors are working together to create fact sheets on community successes and to try to pair community commitments with needed resources. These materials are available online and will be updated following review of the recent submissions to CDP.
How Far Until Charlottesville Reaches Its 2030 Reduction Goal?
As measured in the greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of 2016 emissions, Charlottesville has seen a 21% reduction in emissions since 2011, leaving 24% more to accomplish over the next 10 years. There are many positive signs that point to this being achievable, including an increased rate of reduction over the last 5 years. Over approximately 10 years (2000-2011), Charlottesville reduced its emissions by about 3%. Over the next 5 years (2011-2016), reductions increased by seven times, showing a 21% additional reduction.
The greatest amount of emissions are generated from the community’s residential and commercial activities, accounting for about 65% of the City’s total, with Transportation accounting for almost 30%, and City-owned operations, buildings, and vehicles (including school buses and Charlottesville Area Transit buses) accounting for 5% of the total. The City’s GHG inventory data does not include data on emissions in Albemarle County or from the University of Virginia.
Regional Action on Climate
The City, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia are each making new commitments on climate action concurrently through 2019. As each organization works in parallel on its specific goals, sustainability staff are coordinating on engaging the community and collaboratively building on each organization’s work.
A joint webpage for updates and links is online at www.climateactiontogether.org.
Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy: www.globalcovenantofmayors.org
City’s Climate Protection Program: www.charlottesville.org/cpp
City’s GHG Emissions Inventories: www.charlottesville.org/emissions
City – County – UVA “Climate Action Together” Information: www.climateactiontogether.org