PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney announced today the City of Philadelphia’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The City today also released a draft of the Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook, announced the hiring of its first Chief Resilience Officer and provided further information about the City’s first Environmental Justice Commission.
The commitment to carbon neutrality goes beyond the City’s previous commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 (80×50). A carbon neutral city generates net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the buildings, energy, transportation, and waste sectors. Science indicates that committing to carbon neutrality is necessary to stave off the most dangerous effects of climate change and meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius (2°C) and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C), which is the necessary target.
“Committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which I’m thrilled to know President-elect Biden will rejoin immediately after his inauguration,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m excited for the Biden-Harris Administration to make climate a priority, and I’d like to collaborate with their administration on ways to scale up the work of cities like Philadelphia in reducing emissions from sectors like buildings and transportation.”
Climate change impacts will not be felt the same by every Philadelphia neighborhood, and areas that experience hotter temperatures and other climate impacts are more likely to be low-income communities and communities of color. The City prioritizes supporting communities most impacted by climate stressors in building climate resilience, in service to the goals of achieving both racial and environmental justice in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia joins many other U.S. cities and states that have made carbon neutrality commitments, and the incoming Biden-Harris Administration has committed to putting the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. With this forthcoming increased climate ambition at the national level, it is more important than ever that cities demonstrate climate leadership and show what can and must be done to address climate change.
Climate Action Playbook
To outline existing City actions to combat climate change and identify where additional action is needed to advance the city toward carbon neutrality, Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability has released a draft of the Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook, a one-stop resource detailing how Philadelphia is responding to the climate crisis. The Playbook – which outlines the steps Philadelphia is taking to reduce emissions and adapt to a hotter, wetter future – brings together actions from existing plans and programs across various City departments and agencies to provide a comprehensive view of City climate action.
To understand how Philadelphians are responding to climate change and how they feel about steps the City is taking to combat climate change, the Office of Sustainability is seeking feedback from residents through the Climate Action Playbook Public Survey. Click here to take the survey, and provide your feedback to help inform future climate action in Philadelphia.
Chief Resilience Officer
To improve Philadelphia’s resilience to climate stressors and increase collaboration in building climate resilience, Mayor Kenney named Saleem Chapman as Philadelphia’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) to serve in the Office of Sustainability. In this role, Chapman will oversee the City’s preparedness for the unprecedented challenge of the climate crisis and ensure progress toward the Administration’s goal of a more resilient, equitable city for the Philadelphians of today and generations to come.
“Recent months have shown the immense connections between our environment and our health as well as the growing range of challenges that Philadelphia will need to prepare for,” said Christine Knapp, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “Between the devastating flooding from Tropical Storm Isaias and the third-hottest summer on record, all of which we experienced while navigating a pandemic, these events have proven that building resilience in communities is more critical than ever before. There has never been a more important time to scale efforts to deliver an equitable, resilient Philadelphia.”
Chapman, whose appointment to CRO became effective in September 2020, joined the City of Philadelphia in 2018 as the Deputy Director for the Office of Sustainability. Over the last two years, he has helped lead the implementation of the City’s sustainability plan. He also helped drive the application of a racial equity lens to sustainability efforts, including overseeing the formation of Philadelphia’s first Environmental Justice Commission.
Environmental Justice Commission
The Environmental Justice Commission will assemble individuals with lived experience of and personal interest in Philadelphia’s environmental issues. These issues include, but are not limited to, housing and occupational exposure to environmental toxins, water quality, food security, and localized impacts of climate change such as flooding and extreme heat. The commission will work to identify where cumulative impacts occur, as well as City policies or procedures that result in barriers to achieving environmental justice. The group will strive to amplify the concerns of frontline communities and work with the City to co-develop systemic plans to redress racial and class disparities in exposure to environmental harm. Those interested in receiving updates on the commission, including when recruitment opens, should fill out the Environmental Justice Commission interest form.
Mayor Kenney is also committing to other actions to build the capacity and partnerships needed to tackle climate-related challenges, including a Resilience Cabinet to maximize collaborations across departments and agencies. The City will also seek to establish a Panel on Climate Science and Research to provide authoritative, actionable information to drive urban resilience.
Recent accomplishments that will help the City advance toward its climate goals include the newly-launched Building Energy Performance Program, which requires all non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to either certify high performance or conduct a “tune-up” to improve efficiency in existing building systems.
The City is also ramping up the use of clean energy in homes and businesses through Solarize Philly, has committed to purchasing 22 percent of its municipal electricity from a 70-megawatt solar facility in Pennsylvania, and continues to expand climate initiatives that go beyond the built environment such as Zero Waste Initiatives and Philadelphia’s Connect strategic transportation plan. Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and the City are also working on a Business Diversification Study, which is seeking ways to provide PGW with a range of viable, economically and environmentally sustainable opportunities to diversify its business as Philadelphia transitions to a low-carbon future while maintaining affordable, safe and reliable service to PGW customers.
- Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook (English)
- Executive Summary, Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook (English)
- Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook Public Survey (English)
- Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook (Spanish)
- Executive Summary, Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook (Spanish)
- Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook Public Survey (Spanish)
About the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability
The Philadelphia Office of Sustainability (OOS) works with partners around the City to improve the quality of life in all Philadelphia neighborhoods, reduce the city’s carbon emissions, and prepare Philadelphia for a hotter, wetter future. OOS is responsible for implementing Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan. Learn more at www.phila.gov/green.