Philadelphia releases 'Climate Action Playbook' in commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Major cities have been working to implement different and more improved strategies when addressing climate change.

In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney and his administration will attempt to make those first steps by announcing their commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

The goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% within the next 30 years. The city has hired its first Chief Resilience Officer to help prepare Philadelphia for these efforts.



"In a lot of ways, this is just evolution of work that the city has been doing for almost a decade now, so this is just the very next phase of that process," said Saleem Chapman, chief resilience officer of the city's Environmental Justice Commission.

Champman will help lead efforts in preparing Philadelphia to achieve this plan.

"If we continue to sort of look at the trends of things, which is what climate change is all about, we see that our weather is changing," said Champman. "The fact that we didn't have a snowstorm until December (2020) within the last 24 months says that. The fact that our summers are getting hotter says that."

While the city aims to reduce carbon emissions, it has raised some concerns from some residents.

"Some folks will ask questions around 'Why are we focusing efforts or energy on this issue over gun violence, poverty, economic issues that we're facing right now?' And I think the answer is those are all part of the city's resiliency," said Christine Knapp, director of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability.

While some residents may view these efforts as insignificant amid other problems, Knapp believes that climate change is very well connected when seeking overall growth in Philadelphia as a whole.

"We look at these climate impacts. We can see how they will make poverty worse," said Knapp. "For us, this is all interrelated and is the way we can get ahead."

When evaluating things such as renewable energy, Philadelphia ranks top five in the country among solar growth.

Knapp says surface temperature mapping shows a disparity of 20 degrees between the coolest neighborhoods in the city and the hottest ones.

"When we look at all the demographics that are hotter than average, they are communities of color and low-income communities," she said.

The Office of Sustainability released a Climate Action Playbook that highlighted the areas the city looks to break down and address the city's carbon emissions usage.

According to the playbook, 75% of the city's emissions come from buildings and industries, 22% from transportation, and 3% from waste.

Knapp says while the Climate Action Playbook details steps to address these areas, overall, this will be a step forward for Philadelphia.

"There is an incredible opportunity there for job growth to address our economic disparities and poverty by investing in being forward-thinking in the climate," Knapp added.
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