Mayor Wu Shares Boston’s Climate Success at Vatican Conference

city of boston skyline digital art

As Wu said, “The actions we take set the tone for other municipalities as to what is possible.” Let’s hope others are listening. (Credit: Jasper.AI Image Generator)

by | May 20, 2024

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In a poignant address delivered at a multi-day climate conference hosted by the Vatican and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Mayor Michelle Wu shared Boston’s impressive strides in creating a greener, healthier city. By fostering a culture of innovation, the city has embraced infrastructure upgrades, promoted renewable energy use among residents and businesses, and provided young Bostonians with job training in green industries.

Boston’s Race to Reach Net Zero by 2050

Wu, who has instilled a deep sense of urgency in Boston’s fight against climate change, emphasizes her connection to the cause. For Wu, it’s more than just policy; it’s about shaping a healthier world for her children and future generations.

Wu’s administration has been instrumental in reducing the city’s carbon footprint. Boston’s buildings, responsible for over 70% of greenhouse gases, are now required under a new ordinance to reduce emissions over time to reach net zero by 2050. Specifically, Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) sets requirements for large existing buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time.

Enacted in 2021, BERDO is a legislative measure designed to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from sizable structures in Boston. It empowers the City of Boston to establish emissions benchmarks for substantial pre-existing edifices, encompassing residential complexes with at least 15 units and non-residential premises exceeding 20,000 sqft in size.

Despite initial setbacks in banning fossil fuels in all new buildings, Boston has taken a proactive approach, focusing on reworking city codes to expedite the transition to net zero citywide. The fruits of these efforts are already evident, with three-quarters of Boston’s large buildings on track to meet their 2025 emissions reduction goals.

Climate Resilience Initiative

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, unique in its global scope, promotes pure science and supports its freedom and advancement. In 2022, it embarked on a Climate Resilience initiative that unites researchers, policymakers, and faith leaders to address the complexities of climate change.

This initiative seeks to enhance understanding and develop recommendations for creating resilient communities and ecosystems. A key event is a three-day summit discussing climate resilience, emphasizing a strategy that combines efforts to reduce climate risks, adapt to unavoidable impacts, and drive societal transformation towards sustainable mitigation and adaptation practices.

Global Collaboration and Transparency

Wu’s international visit was more than just an opportunity to share Boston’s accomplishments—it was a platform for mayoral collaboration on global climate change issues. In a productive meeting with Rome’s Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, both mayors underscored the potential for cities to lead the way in reducing emissions. They discussed inclusive initiatives such as Boston’s Open Streets and Rome’s traffic restriction policies.

As Wu said, “The actions we take set the tone for other municipalities as to what is possible.” Let’s hope others are listening.

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