In my day to day work at Sustain Dane I assist the business community in reaching their sustainability goals. In addition to my work at Sustain Dane, I am also a member of the Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC) helping the city achieve their sustainability goals. Over the past year, the SMC has been focusing on energy use and carbon emissions. We were tasked by the City to establish an Energy Plan which was adopted in June of last year.
In that plan our carbon and energy goals were based on the Madison Sustainability Plan which established 1) 80% carbon reduction by 2050, 2) obtain 25% of electricity, heating and transportation energy from Clean Energy Sources by 2025, and 3) reduce overall energy consumption by 50% by 2030. However, the goals from the Madison Sustainability Plan were from 2011. Since then there have been broad advances in science and technology which will give our community the ability to surpass these goals. We as a committee included in the Energy Plan a proposal to “create a working group of the Sustainable Madison Committee that includes other community stakeholders to review the City’s climate change goals and update if needed.”
This sub-committee of the Sustainable Madison Committee held a series of public working sessions from July through November to update the community-wide goals on carbon emissions and renewable energy. At these sessions, several community members attended and offered public statements of support for the City of Madison to take a lead and set bold goals for energy and carbon. My most profound moment at these meetings was when a parent, with kids in tow, personally thanked me for the work we were doing. I understood in that instant that this work was truly important for our community as well as the future generations of Madison.
I am proud to say that on Tuesday, March 21st, the City of Madison’s Common Council voted unanimously to approve the SMC’s Resolution establishing a goal of 100% renewable energy use and net zero carbon emissions community wide. Madison is joining 23 other U.S. municipalities and cities that are committed to 100% renewable energy for its own operations and is also the first Wisconsin municipality to commit to achieving a net zero carbon footprint. Now the real work will begin. However, I am hopeful as the community engagement around this resolution showed the SMC that we as a city are ready to forge this path together.