Government

How can a city reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050?

'We are going to push really hard,' Iowa City Manager Geoff Fruin says

IOWA CITY — Earlier this month, the Iowa City Council declared a climate crisis and called for a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions in the city.

The city set a goal of reducing carbon emissions in 2030 by 45 percent of 2010 levels. It set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Both are aimed at keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The road map for those goals will come in the form of a report from city staff that is due within 100 days. The report is to include recommendations on accelerating carbon emission reductions in the city.

City Manager Geoff Fruin discussed that plan and who will shape it.

Q: How feasible are the city’s goals of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050?

A: I don’t know if it is feasible or not, but 30 years is a long time. We are going to push really hard, with our first focus being on a 45 percent reduction by 2030. One thing we know is that it will take a community effort and a similar push from major stakeholders.

Q: Which city office will be leading the way in creating the recommendations?

A: The City Manager’s Office will coordinate the drafting of the requested 100-day report, but our sustainability coordinator, Brenda Nations, will continue to be our lead staff representative. She is an exceptional person who has the knowledge, skills and relationships to guide us on this path to net zero.

Q: Which city departments will be explored for potential recommendations?

A: It’s important to note we already have a well-crafted plan that the community helped create. So, many actions are already identified. That said, every city department will have a role. This plan is as much about an organizational culture as it is about individual projects.

Q: Are there examples of other cities that have undertaken measures Iowa City could potentially adopt?

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A: We are always looking at and networking with other cities to share ideas. That can be tough at times due to different limitations in powers from state to state.

Q: How soon could Iowa City see changes implemented?

A: Changes are already occurring around us from the integration of electric vehicles, new bike lanes and transit improvements, solar installations, building projects, curbside composting and more. Iowa City has been moving forward for many years. The council resolution called for an accelerated pace to meet new targets. It’s a statement about elevated priorities, and that will be reflected in the work we do going forward.

• Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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