Achieving Community Clean Energy Goals

Agreeing on ambitious climate goals feels terrific.

Achieving your goals will feel even better—
so let’s make change happen!

Communities across the US are committing to ambitious climate goals—100% clean energy or zero emissions.

Setting ambitious goals is exciting—it feels good to lead on climate change, one of the most important issues of our generation. More, your community’s commitment is likely to inspire other communities to set similar goals.

The next step, of course, is to accomplish those ambitious goals. And that’s where Cool Choices can help.

Smart Strategies for Real Results

Achieving ambitious climate goals is possible—if you opt for strategies that facilitate and inspire change all across your community.

First, you need a plan. Well, actually you’ll need a series of plans. It’s ideal to assess progress and update your plans at least every five years—that way you’ll stay on track. The core of achieving clean energy or zero emissions typically involves:

  • Reducing energy, gasoline, water and other resource usage (by making buildings more efficient, by encouraging more walking, biking and transit, etc.)
  • Transitioning to electricity that doesn’t generate emissions (clean energy–which is defined differently in each locality)
  • Shifting transportation from gasoline to electricity or other clean sources (e.g., methane from digesters)
  • Switching from natural gas to clean electricity in buildings–for heating and water heating in homes and businesses as well as for manufacturing purposes in factories

Many localities also include a social equity aspect in their plans. The historic use of fossil fuels did not benefit all people in the US equally; some groups and communities have been disproportionately impacted by pollution associated with burning fossil fuels, for example. As communities envision a new clean energy forward there is often a commitment to equity–to ensuring that everyone has a role in (and sees the benefits of) the clean energy transition.

If you aim to achieve 100% clean energy you’ll need a plan that articulates a clear path associated with each of the bullets above. How quickly will you transition to clean electricity? What’s the time frame for making buildings more efficient? Electrification? The specifics will vary based on your particular situation.

In addition to concrete milestones associated with buildings and transportation and other systems, every iteration of your plan should include:

You Can Do This!

The risks associated with climate change are dire. It’s tempting to focus on the worst news, hoping to scare people into participation. Don’t go negative! The research is clear here: if there’s no hope, people will disengage. And you can’t mobilize a community if folks have stopped listening to you.

When communicating about the plan, always aim to empower the reader. Your tone should be inclusive—we are all in this together—and celebratory—look what we’ve already accomplished! Always focus on the positive. When you hold up individuals or businesses as leaders it inspires others to do their part. Positive reinforcement is very effective!