AUSTIN, Texas – Though temperatures may be falling, Austin residents know all too well that this summer was a scorcher—the third hottest in recorded history, according to the National Weather Service. The alarming trends of more sizzling summers, extended droughts, increased wildfire risks, and intense rain and flooding are only some of the reasons Mayor Steve Adler and the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability have declared October as Climate Change Awareness Month. The initiative will include a variety of activities to engage individuals as well as businesses.
Austin is leading the way in fighting against climate change and is one of six U.S. cities with the most aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Austin’s goal for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 meets the intention set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
“We’re already seeing the impact of climate change here in Austin, and projections tell us to expect even more extreme weather,” said Mayor Adler. “On behalf of the City of Austin, I was happy to sign the ‘We Are Still In’ declaration, making a commitment to take every possible action to achieve the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. With everyone’s help we can fight climate change and protect this city we call home.”
The Austin Community Climate Plan includes actions that will reduce emissions from three key areas: energy, transportation and waste sources. Some actions range from Austin Energy’s commitment to generate 65 percent of its energy through renewables by 2027, to the City’s plan to add 330 electric vehicles to its fleet by 2020. In addition, Austin’s zero-waste strategies supporting reuse, recycling and composting aim to divert waste from landfills and reduce methane emissions.
The City’s actions will go a long way toward reducing climate-related threats to our community’s health and way of life, but it will take everyone doing their part to reach our emission reduction goals. Mayor Adler is challenging the business community and individuals to help cut Austin’s citywide carbon footprint.
“There are simple things that anyone can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens. “Think about three things you do every day: how you use electricity, where you go and how you get there, and your shopping decisions. Consider ways you could conserve, simplify, and get out of your car – make small changes and form new habits. The collective impact will be huge.”
The annual Green Cup Challenge, currently underway, invites members of the City’s Green Business Leaders program to compete head-to-head and track the impact of their sustainability actions. Last year, Green Cup contestants diverted 1,130 pounds of trash from landfills, saved 38,000 gallons of water and avoided more than six tons of emissions.
New this year is the Mayor’s Carbon Reduction Challenge, calling on all Austinites to help reach a community-wide goal of avoiding 50,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in just eight days using the Rethink/ mobile app. The Rethink/ Challenge will kick off October 23, and it’s easy to participate by downloading the free Rethink/ mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app provides tips for adopting sustainable habits that will reduce emissions and can save money, such as taking the bus or carpooling once a week, recycling more, conserving electricity and switching to a smart thermostat. Because the app automatically tracks the greenhouse gas emissions avoided, Rethink/ participants can see how even small changes they make contribute to the City’s overall goal.
For more information about the Mayor’s Green Cup Challenge and the Rethink/ Challenge, visit:
About the Office of Sustainability
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability was established in September 2010, and 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. Find out more.