AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2015, the City of Austin adopted what was then called the Austin Community Climate Plan which set the stage for the city to reach a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The plan was updated last month to what’s now called the Austin Climate Equity Plan — it includes reaching net-zero emissions by an earlier date of 2040, while also addressing racial equity for all Austinites.
Net-zero emissions is the balance between greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
This is how the climate aspect of the plan is hoping to tackle these issues.
This goal looks into how can our buildings be better suited so that they are using energy and water more efficiently. It also looks into refrigerant use and leaks in windows and doors. Sustainable buildings calls for all new buildings to be built with net-zero emissions.
Transportation and Land Use
The goal is to center our mobility network on people using other modes of transportation besides driving in vehicles while also building things like parks within a short-mile radius of transportation centers. This also includes 135,000 housing units to be built by 2027, with 60,000 being affordable housing units, and 75% of new housing built within a half mile within city activity centers. This is so that by 2050, 50% of all trips are made by public transit, walking, biking, and carpooling.
The goal here is to have 40% of total miles traveled in Austin be from electric vehicles. There will also be an expansion of charging stations throughout the city. There are also incentives for buying electric vehicles as well as the conversion to an all-electric fleet for the public sector vehicles.
Food and Product Consumption
This section involves being mindful of the food and products we buy and disposing of them properly. But it also includes that all Austinites have access to a food system that is community-driven. The city also hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating a sustainable purchasing program so that institutional, commercial and governmental purchasing is cut by 50% by 2030.
This part of the plan that relies on capturing carbon emissions rather than reducing emissions. This hopes to be done first by legally protecting 20,000 acres of “carbon pools” (areas that take and release carbon from the atmosphere). An additional 500,000 acres of farmland will be protected from future land development in the 5-county Austin metropolitan region. And finally, achieving a 50% citywide tree canopy by 2050.
Studies will be conducted this fiscal year, which started October 1, with plans of implementation to begin by next fiscal year.