Municipal Climate Action Plan (2014)

Background

The South Portland City Council formally adopted a Municipal Climate Action Plan (MCAP) in 2014. This plan was the culmination of an eight-year long process that began in 2007 when the City Council signed on to the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, which called on signatories to implement policies and programs that would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 17% by 2017.

To inform development of the MCAP, the City compiled a comprehensive GHG Emissions Inventory in 2011. The inventory used 2007 energy use data from buildings, facilities, and vehicles to establish a baseline against which future emissions reductions could be measured. Using this inventory, the City’s Energy and Recycling Committee (ERC) and City staff identified 25 action items to reduce emissions from municipal operations. These actions formed the basis of the MCAP.

Results

The City contracted with the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) to compile an updated GHG Emissions Inventory in 2017 using 2014 energy data from buildings, facilities, and vehicles so that changes in emissions could be quantified and progress toward the emissions reduction goal could be measured.

The results of the updated inventory show that by 2014, the City had achieved:

  • 3% reduction in overall energy use since 2007
  • 23% reduction in overall emissions since 2007

This means that the City was able to achieve and exceed its 17% emissions reduction goal in advance of the initial deadline of 2017.

This is due in part to the substantial progress the City made in implementing the action items identified in the MCAP. A Status Report of the 25 action items identified in the MCAP revealed that: 5 were Completed, 18 are On-Going, and only 2 were Not Started.

Conclusion 

While the City has made considerable strides in improving the efficiency of its operations and transitioning to cleaner and renewable energy through implementing these action items, it is important to note that there are many factors contributing to the differences between 2007 and 2014 energy use and emissions reductions. Most notably, record-keeping and data collection improved considerably in 2014 relative to 2007. In addition, there was a dramatic decrease in emissions associated with electricity in 2014 due to a cleaner regional grid. Changes in operations and buildings, and differences in weather between 2007 and 2014 also played a considerable role in reducing overall emissions.

These differences are detailed in the attached reports, and highlight the challenge of comparing current conditions to past results. This was expected as a certain degree of difference is inherent to follow-up inventories, especially ones that span more than a couple years between updates.   

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