The Bowser administration announced its commitment to several new initiatives to combat climate change, including a transition toward zero waste and the development of net-zero carbon buildings, at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on Sept. 12-14.
Represented at the San Francisco summit by Director of the Department of Energy & Environment Tommy Wells, the Bowser administration reaffirmed Washington, D.C.’s support for sustainability as a signatory of both the C40’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration and August’s Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration.
The 3-day summit brought together leaders, companies and citizens from around the world to celebrate environmental achievements and work to create sustainable solutions to pressing climate issues such as land and ocean stewardship, healthy energy systems and inclusive economic growth.
Bowser pledged to enact regulations ensuring that new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030 and all existing buildings meet the same standards by 2050, joining 18 other cities worldwide with its declaration, according to a Sept. 13 news release.
This commitment to net-zero carbon buildings will play a major role in mitigating the effects of climate change, Chair of the D.C. Chapter of environmental advocacy group The Sierra Club Mark Rodeffer said.
“Because buildings account for about three-fourths of the greenhouse gas emissions from DC, making our buildings more energy efficient and increasing their use of renewable energy is the key to reducing emissions in DC,” Rodeffer wrote in an email to The Hoya.
D.C. also committed to reducing the amount of waste produced by citizens by 15 percent, cut the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50 percent, and raise the diversion rate to 70 percent by 2030, according to an Aug. 23 news release. In addition, the Bowser administration plans to increase community-led efforts against climate change.
The District continues to seek out initiatives allowing for both economic growth and environmental progress, Bowser said.
“Our progress over the last decade shows that it is possible for a large city to grow and prosper while simultaneously shrinking its carbon footprint,” Bowser said in a Sept. 13 news release. “DC will continue to invest in and support programs and policies that put us on a path to a greener, more sustainable, and more resilient future.”
This announcement follows last month’s release of D.C.’s new energy and climate action plan, Clean Energy D.C., which details the District’s environmental goals, as well as the specific policies and actions it intends to implement in order to promote energy efficiency and a sustainable future.
Clean Energy D.C. is a major component of the larger Sustainable D.C. plan, which outlines actions that the D.C. government plans to carry out in all sectors of society, including governance, the economy, education and the environment, to improve economic growth, equity and opportunity in the District.
The District has long worked to become a leader in the fight against climate change, working to cut its carbon footprint by almost 30 percent since 2006 and implementing progressive green building policy, according to the Sept. 13 news release.
In 2017, after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Bowser renewed D.C.’s commitment to the agreement through a Mayor’s Order.
“Our values didn’t change on Election Day. The effects of climate change are already here, and without proper planning and collaboration, they will be catastrophic,” Bowser said in a June 5 news release. “It is in the country’s best interest to take climate change seriously, and as the nation’s capital, we have a special obligation to create policies and implement programs that protect our environment.”