Cleveland, a metropolitan center known more for its urban struggles than its progressive energy policies, has joined the ranks of American cities that have fully embraced clean power. In its updated Climate Action Plan released this fall, Ohio’s second largest city set a goal of powering up on 100 percent renewables by the year 2050.
The city’s primary goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the plan retains the same thresholds from its previous iteration. The 2013 Climate Action Plan aimed to reduce emissions to 80 percent below 2010 levels by 2050, with interim goals of 16 percent reduction by 2020 and 40 percent reduction by 2030.
The city has a long way to go to reach those laudable goals. According to its own data, the city’s carbon footprint has been reduced from 12.8 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2e) in 2010 to 12.5 million in 2016, only a 2 percent decrease.
To reach its goals, the 2018 Climate Action Plan relies on several focus areas. Energy efficiency and green building is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.6 million metric tons. Clean energy is projected to reduce emissions by 2.5 million metric tons. Sustainable transportation is expected to eliminate four million metric tons.
Regarding the goal of 100 percent renewables, the city has some reason for optimism, as adoption is already on a steep upswing. According to the Climate Action Plan, the proportion of Cleveland’s energy generated from renewables increased from 7 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2016. Renewable energy installations also increased across Northeast Ohio from 0.24 MW installed at 9 facilities in 2010 to 15.02 MW installed across 178 facilities in 2017.
According to data from the Sierra Club, Cleveland is now one of 82 cities that have pledged to get all of their power from renewables.