Austin's Making Progress On Climate Change Goals, Adler Says, But Work Remains

Dec 12, 2018

Just this week, C40 renewed the City of Austin's membership for three more years. C40 describes itself as "a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change."  So, how is Austin doing in reaching its goals to address climate change and manage the impacts that are already here?

The City has some pretty ambitious goals to try and stem climate change. The City wants all its fleets, facilities and operations to be completely carbon neutral by 2020. Mayor Steve Adler says he believes the City is doing well on its local goals and energy generation goals. But an update from March of 2018 shows Austin will have to make carbon offset purchases to meet its goal for City operations and fleets by 2020.

"You prefer not to do that if you can avoid that," Mayor Adler says. "But it's really important that cities like Austin step up and do meet those goals with whatever it is that works to improve the overall carbon footprint in the world."

The City's Office of Sustainability is tracking progress towards community-wide net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That March 2018 update shows a slight decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from 2013-2016 but does stress that "strategies to reduce emissions from transportation sources and associated land use decisions will be increasingly important to achieve Austin’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050."

While the City strives to meet benchmarks along the way to that 2050 goal, it also has to deal with what climate change has already brought to the planet. In Central Texas, those changes have mostly been manifested in drought, extreme weather, and flooding. Mayor Adler says California's 2018 wildfires are also a cautionary tale for Austin.

"There's extra attention and resources that are being put against wildfire management and containment and resiliency - extra money put in this most recent budget that we approved," Adler says.

Listen to the KUT interiew to hear more about what the City of Austin is doing to manage the impacts of climate change now and in the future: