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Austin Aims for Zero CO2 Emissions by 2020

Austin has announced an aggressive climate protection plan that will cut its carbon dioxide emissions to almost nothing by 2020, the American Statesman reports. The broad goals proposed by Mayor Will Wynn do not include cost estimates, details or timelines. That information will come incrementally as the City Council considers individual proposals.

The plan will eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from virtually all municipal activities by the year 2020. This includes powering all City facilities with 100 percent renewable energy, converting the entire city fleet of vehicles to alternative fuels and electric power, and implementing greenhouse gas reduction plans in every City department.

The plan calls for Austin Energy to aggressively ramp up its clean energy programs, achieving 700 megawatts of new conservation and efficiency savings and having 30 percent of its energy needs come from renewable resources by 2020. It also calls for making all new single-family homes zero net-energy capable by 2015 and increasing efficiency in all new commercial buildings by 75 percent in the same period.

Starting immediately, replacement vehicles in the city’s fleet will be hybrids or those that can run on biofuels. The total cost of a typical midsize sedan, including fuel and maintenance, is 45 percent less than a hybrid, according to a city analysis.

Home buyers could also bear some new responsibilities through a proposal that homes undergo an energy efficiency upgrade when they are sold.

According to the Statesman, the Austin Climate Protection Plan includes the following goals:

  • Power 100 percent of city facilities with renewable energy by 2012.
  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from entire city fleet by 2020 through use of electric power and nonpetroleum fuels.
  • Achieve 700 megawatts in savings through energy efficiency and conservation by 2020.
  • Meet 30 percent of all energy needs through renewable resources by 2020.
  • Commit to lowest-emission technologies for any new power plants and carbon dioxide reductions on existing plants.
  • Boost energy efficiency in new homes and other buildings.
  • Require energy efficiency improvements in existing homes and buildings when sold.
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