FAQ

How is Carbon Free Boston (CFB) related to the City of Boston’s Climate Action Plan (CAP)?

They are related but separate activities. CFB is a collaborative process among the Green Ribbon Commission (GRC), the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Boston University, and the City of Boston. From that work, the ISE will submit a report to the GRC that assesses a variety of strategies that enable the City to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The City will use this report, and other information from its climate-related activities, to inform its next CAP update. The update process is expected to launch in late 2018.

What are the Roles of the City, the GRC, and the ISE?

The “org chart” is complex, but in nutshell, here’s how it works. The ISE is responsible for performing the technical analysis of policies and technologies that reduce GHG emissions, and for submitting a report for the GRC that describes that work. The GRC staff facilitates communication between the ISE and the members of the GRC, including the Commission’s Carbon Free Boston Working Group, and provides strategic, operational, and day-to-day logical guidance to the ISE. The City is represented on the advisory committees and insures that representation is appropriately broad and deep; it facilitates the acquisition of data; it provides technical and strategic advice on the models; it insures that the models assess the appropriate technologies and policies; and it otherwise insures that the process and products of the technical analysis are consistent with the City’s climate planning process.

How Does the City Measure and Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

The City maintains a public greenhouse gas emissions inventory that reports emissions from 2005 through 2015. The inventory is updated regularly, and includes GHG emissions from the use of purchased electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, fugitive gas, motor vehicle fuels, and wastewater. Inventory reports describe the data in more detail and provide context for trends in emissions.

How does a city become “carbon neutral?”

“Neutral” refers to the City’s commitment to reduce the net effect on climate from human activity in the City to zero by 2050. In a nutshell, this means the emissions of anthropogenic GHGs in the City, net of the uptake of CO2 by vegetation in the City, is equal to zero by 2050. You can read more about the concept here.

What individuals or organizations provide input to the work of CFB?

The ISE is advised by a wide range of organizations (see figure). You can see the membership of these groups by navigating to the specific focus areas. Monthly meetings are held with a Steering Committee whose members are drawn from leadership in the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Green Ribbon Commission, and some of the project’s funders. Individual advisory groups meet regularly to discuss specific parts of the work: buildings, transportation, energy, waste, and social equity. The ISE also oversees the work of consultants with expertise in specific sectors.  The ISE also receives input on a less regular basis from a variety of organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Is the public involved?

The Greenovate team for the City of Boston leads the public engagement on all aspects of the City’s climate action planning and implementation. Check the Greenovate web site for more information and upcoming events.  Questions? Contact them directly at greenovate@boston.gov.

What policies are being evaluated and how were they selected?

The Carbon Free Boston project will assess the effects of specific  policy scenarios on greenhouse gas emissions in four sectors of the City of Boston: energy, transportation, waste, and buildings. The extent to which a policy will evaluated will vary, depending in part on the extent and and quality of data. This list of policies was developed from (i) a review of other city’s mitigation plans by the ISE, (i) C40’s Deadline 2020 report, (ii) a 2016 scoping report for the Green Ribbon Commission, (iii) recommendations by the City of Boston’s Environment Department, and (iv) this project’s advisory committees for energy, buildings, transportation, waste, and social equity.

How is the CFB Project Funded?

The work of the ISE is made possible by the support of a wide range of philanthropic, corporate, and government sources. You can see the complete list of funders here.