Tracking Boston’s Emissions Reduction Progress

The Boston Foundation published the “Inaugural Boston Climate Progress Report” earlier this month. Other U.S. cities should follow their lead.

2 minute read

November 10, 2022, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Bunker Hill, Charlestown

Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Boston is one of the first U.S. cities to assess its progress toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050, with the publication of the “Inaugural Boston Climate Progress Report” by the Boston Foundation earlier this month. The 2050 net zero goal is in line with the recommendations of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change published earlier this year.

The report, co-authored by Planetizen blogger Joan Fitzgerald along with Michael J. Walsh, answers the question: “How well is Boston—as a civic community—driving forward system transformations to meet climate, resilience, and equity goals?” To do so, the report “highlights a dozen key outcomes that must be achieved by programs, projects, and initiatives whose success is imperative to reaching the overarching goals, and lays out four ‘big lifts,’ system-transforming actions which Boston—along with the broader region and state—needs to accelerate to sharply reduce net emissions,” according to the Boston Foundation’s website for the report.

“Progress snapshots” for each of the key outcomes and can be explored at the links below:

Key Outcomes

The report describes the four big lifts as “multidecade, multi-platform projects that would play critical roles in helping the city align with its climate and equity goals.”

Big Lifts

For its part, Boston will face unique challenges while making progress toward the net zero goal. The city reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent between 2005 and 2019, according to the report, but the Brookings Institution ranked Boston as the most unequal U.S. city in 2014.

Even with a long way to go to turn this wish list into a series of accomplishments, Boston is poised for a leadership role in the climate crisis. When organized into this kind of conceptual framework, the challenge of reducing emissions and preparing for the disruptions to come seems doable, even if still immensely challenging. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 in The Boston Foundation

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