Clean energy efforts ranked for 100 US citiesS. Himmelstein | December 30, 2021
How are urban areas in the U.S. progressing toward a more energy-efficient future? The 2021 City Clean Energy Scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analyzes the efforts of 100 cities to make buildings and transportation more energy efficient and scale up the use of renewable energy.
Cities earned credit for policies and programs such as requiring large buildings to reduce energy waste or subsidizing access to transit and other efficient transportation options for historically marginalized groups, and for their success in reducing their overall greenhouse gas emissions. The assessment also gauged actions and policies implemented to achieve climate goals for the transportation sector — which are based on either greenhouse gas emissions or vehicle miles traveled — using a comprehensive review of reported data for the May 2020 to July 2021 period. Twenty-five cities have adopted such goals, and only three are on track to achieve them. Seventeen of the 25 cities could not provide sufficient data to assess their progress. San Diego showed the strongest progress in this category, achieving a nearly 3% annual reduction in transportation greenhouse gas emissions since 2015.
The most recent clean energy policy actions have primarily focused on sectors other than transportation. Of the 177 new city clean energy actions scored in the report, only 23 were related to transportation, which is responsible for the largest share of U.S. emissions.
Top honors were awarded to San Francisco, followed by Seattle, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, and Boston and New York tied for fifth place. San Francisco launched a new program that provides free home energy-saving kits to residents in areas that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution and are economically disadvantaged. The city also updated its energy code for new residential and commercial buildings with requirements that will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and it was the top scorer on transportation policies.