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NREL: 6 Common City-Level Energy Policies Can Reduce Carbon Emissions by up to 480 Million Metric Tons

Oct. 28, 2016

The report helps local policy makers and staff members take appropriate action to move toward a clean energy future.

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory investigated the carbon reduction potential of city actions in six policy areas as part of the DOE's Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) project.

The study surveyed more than 23,400 U.S. cities and estimates the aggregate impact of city actions related to: building energy codes, building energy incentives, rooftop photovoltaics, public transit, smart growth and municipal actions. The results from the report demonstrate that by 2035, these six common city-level policy approaches could reduce nationwide carbon emissions by 210-480 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year. That is a 7%-19% reduction in carbon emissions for the average city relative to current city-level emissions.

The report, Estimating the National Carbon Abatement Potential of City Policies: A Data-Driven Approach, demonstrates the comparative impacts of city-level energy actions and helps cities better understand how their particular climate and characteristics influence these impacts. For example, by enforcing stricter building energy codes, cities could reduce building energy use by about 10% on average.

“Many cities don't have the data and methods to analyze policies in terms of carbon abatement potential, and we didn't know the abatement potential of these city actions on a national scale,” says NREL's Eric O'Shaughnessy, lead author on the report. “Our analysis fills these gaps by providing methodologies to assess the carbon abatement potential of a variety of city actions."

To see the report in full, click here. 

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