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Mayor Bowser Releases Carbon Free DC Strategy While Attending COP28

Friday, December 1, 2023
Plan Charts DC’s Path to Carbon Neutrality by 2045 by Prioritizing Improvements to Health, Energy Affordability, and Economic Opportunity

(Washington, DC) – Today, while attending the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit in Dubai, Mayor Bowser released Carbon Free DC, the District’s comprehensive strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. This plan identifies key actions necessary to reduce the District’s contribution to global emissions while also creating a healthier, more resilient, and more equitable DC. The release of the Carbon Free DC plan comes as Mayor Bowser joins hundreds of local and national government leaders to pioneer local solutions to climate change as a delegate to COP28.

“When it comes to climate change, cities can have a powerful global impact when we work together towards common goals. It is a global challenge, but the solutions need to come from and be implemented at every level,”  said Mayor Bowser. “With our Carbon Free DC plan, DC is continuing our commitment to mitigate the impacts of climate change by creating a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future for all.”

Carbon Free DC is the latest step in Washington, DC’s leadership on climate action and emissions reduction. Aggressively reducing carbon emissions now is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Through previous climate initiatives, the District has already made great strides toward carbon neutrality, cutting emissions by 36% between 2006-2021. Carbon Free DC is dedicated to transforming the drivers of emissions across all sectors—buildings, energy, transportation, and waste—and focusing on ways to reduce wasted energy and use more clean, renewable power to reduce emissions.

“Washington DC is taking bold action to reduce carbon emissions, create good green jobs, and improve equity and quality of life for its residents,” said Laura Jay, North America Regional Director for C40 Cities, a global network of mayors representing the world’s leading cities united to confront the climate crisis. “With leaders from around the globe meeting this week at COP28 to discuss how to meet our global climate goals, DC is showing how cities are uniquely poised to take meaningful action and implement real solutions. Through the network of C40 Cities, the leadership of Washington DC can serve as a model for cities around the country and the world, creating a better future for all.

Carbon Free DC’s key strategies include:

  • Phasing out on-site fossil fuel combustion in buildings. Buildings are the largest source of GHG emissions in the District (71% of total emissions). Strategies to address these emissions include calling for net-zero energy construction codes and offering programs that help residents and buildings convert existing systems to zero-carbon alternatives in a way that improves the quality of homes while simultaneously maintaining affordability.
  • Bringing housing, jobs, and daily needs closer together. The District’s vision is for more housing that is both affordable and located in connected neighborhoods, helping residents live closer to where they need to go, saving time and money. Strategies include supporting housing development where little has occurred, enhancing transit-oriented development in neighborhoods that are already well-connected, providing opportunities for residents of all incomes and household sizes to rent and own, and increasing the coverage, speed, and reliability of the transit network. 
  • Enabling more residents to walk, bike, and take public transit to reach their destination. Strategies include reducing costs for transit with free or reduced fares, expanding late night services, and providing options that meet the specific needs of historically under-resourced communities.
  • Assessing and reducing embodied carbon of materials and energy used. The goods and services we depend on daily—the food we eat, materials we use to build our homes, and energy that powers our daily lives all have an environmental impact. Strategies include conducting a baseline assessment of the District’s consumption-based emissions, adopting interim reduction targets, and charting a pathway to achieving those goals; accelerating a comprehensive strategy to address food waste; and encouraging recycling and reuse.

“Climate change is here, and we must strive to avoid the worst effects of climate change by aggressively cutting emissions now and in the very near future,” said Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Richard Jackson. “As we work to implement Carbon Free DC, we recognize that tackling climate change is part of the District’s broader commitment to advance health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity for all District residents.”

Carbon Free DC supports and builds on previous District plans, including Clean Energy DC, moveDC, Sustainable DC 2.0, and Climate Ready DC. As these plans continue to be implemented and updated, Carbon Free DC will provide a guide for aligning them with the key steps needed to cut carbon pollution and advance equity in those investments and policies.
To learn more about the Carbon Free DC strategy, check out this story map. The full strategy and supporting strategic policy roadmap are available here: doee.dc.gov/service/climate-change. 

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