City of Boise officials plan for a carbon-neutral future

BOISE — The city of Boise is on the path to carbon neutrality, and officials are moving forward on a roadmap for climate action approved by the city council last year.

This map aims to achieve the goals of carbon neutral municipal operations by 2035 and the entire community of Boise by 2050.

When Mayor Lauren McLean ran for the job in 2019, she campaigned on a number of issues, including clean energy and climate change. “We have seen, each year, our skies get a little more smoky, we have more hot days than in the past and the weather is more unpredictable than before. And all of this has real impacts on the health of our community. “McLean said. “We are at a time of change. And I hear every day from residents who recognize the impacts we’re feeling and they really want to see some leadership.”

Mclean sponsored the Clean Energy Plan as City Council President in 2019 and in 2021 pushed for final adoption of this climate roadmap.

Knowing where emissions are coming from is essential to meeting the city’s energy goals. This is where greenhouse gas inventories come in. “They identify where the sources of greenhouse gas emissions are coming from in our community and at our facilities,” said Steve Hubble, Boise’s director of climate action.

In 2020, the city emitted over 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The largest source of emissions was from wastewater treatment processes at 39%.

The water renewal bond that passed last November authorized up to $570 million for improvements to the city’s sewage system. The funds will help recycle wastewater by treating it to a very high standard and returning it to industry or returning it to the aquifer.

“Boiseans made it clear last fall with the water bond vote, that climate action, access to clean water and water reuse are really important,” McLean said. at Idaho News 6.

Heating, cooling and powering city-owned buildings and facilities was another significant source of emissions in 2020 at 35%. To learn more about GHG inventories, click here.

Targeting this area of ​​the carbon neutrality puzzle simply comes down to reducing energy consumption or electrifying buildings and fleets.

“Science is really fundamental to our work,” Hubble said. “So in 2016 we did a climate adaptation assessment to really understand what the climate impacts look like here locally, whether it’s around heat, water or other things that are related. “

Research from the University of Idaho, Boise State University and the Langdon Group determined the risks of climate change in Boise for assessment, such as the danger of increasing heat. Hot days above 91 degrees Fahrenheit could go from a historic base of 16 days per summer to 66 days by 2050, for example.

In response, authorities are emphasizing public cooling spaces and planting an additional 100,000 trees in the city by 2030.

Related: City of Trees Challenge kicks off in Boise

Other risks to Boise include deteriorating air quality due to increased wildfire danger and more frequent drought, among others.

What comes first is meeting these goals for the operations of the Municipality of Boise, and then moving on to helping the rest of the community become carbon neutral.

Despite the challenges of solving such a complex problem, Mayor McLean says she’s optimistic that Boise will become a carbon-neutral city by 2050.

“What we see is that while we have goals and we have aggressive goals, we have to do it. The people of Boise, the people of Boise, want to be a partner in this. And so I am optimistic that as hard as it is to find these solutions and then create the change we need to protect this community, that we will be able to do it, ”said McLean.

Related: Warming environmental conditions will continue

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