The commitment to combat climate change has gained the support of the global community, with city governments like Bellingham leading the way in the public sector. In 2005, City Council committed to the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and its five milestones. That process resulted in Bellingham’s 2007 Climate Protection Action Plan, which included emissions reduction targets for 2012 and 2020. The City has completed the initial five Climate Protection milestones, and has now renewed our commitment to greenhouse gas reduction in the Climate Protection Action Plan 2018 Update (51MB) charting a course to meet new targets in 2030 and 2050. Starting in 2018, the City’s Climate Action Plan will be updated every 5 years. The next update is scheduled for 2023.
Bellingham’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions have worked. Emissions inventories show that both the municipal city government and the Bellingham community within city limits exceeded 2012 emissions targets (Table 1). However, 2015 inventories show an increase in emissions since 2012 so continuing the commitment to action is necessary to reach targets in 2020 and beyond.
Municipal Sector successes
Between 2000 and 2012, municipal emissions dropped by 69.5 percent, exceeding the original target of 64 percent. This has been accomplished by implementing 23 municipal emissions reduction measures. In 2015, municipal emissions increased slightly but the City is still on track to meet the 2020 goal with continued reductions in natural gas and fleet emissions.
Community Sector successes
Community emissions fell 17 percent between 2000 and 2012, exceeding the goal of a 7 percent reduction. This was made possible by implementing 48 emissions reduction measures. In 2015, community emissions increased compared to 2012, which could make it harder to reach emissions targets in 2020 and beyond. Committed action across the community will be necessary to meet these goals.
Taking the next steps
The Climate Protection Action Plan 2018 Update (51MB) includes new emissions reduction measures to meet emissions targets for 2020 and beyond. Looking forward, the City aims to further reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions to 85% below 2000 levels by 2030 and 100% below 2000 levels by 2050 – making the city government carbon neutral. The new community emissions targets are 70% below 2000 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050.
One vision, six strategies
To reach these ambitious goals, the City has identified 24 ongoing and new municipal emissions reduction measures and 56 community emissions reduction measures in six core strategies.
Climate Action Plan Task Force
When adopting the 2018 Update, the City Council also included in the resolution the creation of a Climate Action Plan Task Force to develop and recommend 100% renewable energy targets and suggest policies to accelerate 2018 Climate Action Plan greenhouse gas reduction targets.