Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are produced when we use energy in our homes and offices, dispose of waste or sewage, and use vehicles. GHGs trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to lasting disruptions in our climate, such as higher temperatures, sea level rise, and more frequent extreme weather events that can cause flooding. Cambridge, along with many other cities, organizations, and businesses, both nationally and internationally, has committed to significantly reduce GHG emissions by 2050 to avoid severe impacts from climate change.
Cambridge has established a goal to have an 80% reduction of Community GHGs by 2050, and for building emissions to be 5% below the 2015 level by 2020, and decrease 80% by 2050.
GHGs have a natural heat trapping capacity which varies by gas. Humans produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other GHG. We count emissions of GHGs based on how each GHG’s heat trapping capacity compares to CO2s. This is called the CO2 equivalent (CO2e). We measure GHGs in metric tons of CO2e (mtCO2e)
The City has recently completed a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory for 2012. This will serve as the City’s baseline for measuring progress on our emissions reduction goals. This graph shows where our emissions were at in 2012 and where we hope to be in 2050.
What This Chart Tells Us
As with municipal GHG emissions, buildings are the largest sector of community GHG emissions, with commercial and institutional buildings accounting for more than half of all community emissions. This is followed by residential buildings and then energy industries, which are the generation facilities that provide electricity and heat for the commercial and institutional properties. On-road transportation, which includes all the cars, trucks, and buses that travel on our streets, represents 10.5% of the city’s GHG emissions.
Actions to Address Community GHG Emissions
- Implementation of the Net Zero Action Plan will help us address the majority of our community GHG emissions, which come from buildings in Cambridge.
- Cambridge residents have many options to get around without a vehicle- check out our CitySmart page to see how the bike, pedestrian, and transit infrastructure in the City can help get you where you are going.
How You Can Help
Reduce Energy Use In Your Own Home
There are a lot of opportunities to reduce energy use in your own home, such as switching to LED lights, adding insulation, and buying an Energy Star water heater. MassSave has a lot of information on this topic. Check out this video to learn more about residential energy efficiency.More Information
Switch to Renewable Energy
Programs are available for residents and businesses to install solar panels on their homes or offices – check out Mass.gov for technical and financial resources to help you go solar. If installing solar panels is not an option, you can purchase 100% renewable energy through the Cambridge Community Electric Program.More Information
Reduce your Waste by Recycling and Composting
- Inside Climate News
- Wicked Local
- Green Biz
- The Guardian