Phoenix Aims to be Carbon-Neutral by 2050

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton recently joined John J. Berger, an energy and environmental policy specialist, at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas to discuss the city’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and landfill waste and promote urban sustainability, per The Huffington Post

Noting that the city is largely defined by 550-square miles, Phoenix is aggressively becoming more urban thanks to measures like the transportation infrastructure plan with over $9 billion dollars of investment — mostly in the form of residential housing — along the Valley Metro Light Rail system. The south central extension is scheduled for completion in 2023. Meanwhile, neighboring cities Mesa and Chandler are considering light rail after the success of the light rail corridor in Phoenix. 

Along with improved infrastructure, the mayor lead an effort to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in Phoenix by 15 percent by 2015 — an effort that has succeeded tenfold. Topping the 30 percent mark earlier this fall, the city now aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025 with the ultimate goal of becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2050.

Phoenix is also the first North American city to join the Ellen MacArthur Circular Economy 100 organization, a program promoting a “circular economy” that aims to prevent waste by looking beyond the traditional "take, make and dispose” economy. For example, Phoenix-based company Palm Silage recycles palm fronds, a popular tree found in Arizona, and grinds them into animal feed. The company also partners with Goodwill to recycle the 60,000 mattresses thrown into public landfills.

As one of only 60 U.S. mayors who agreed to abide by the Paris climate agreement, despite the U.S. opting out, Stanton not only promotes green policies for the betterment of the environment, but also realizes a sustainable city attracts talent in the workforce. 

“When it comes to economic development, more than anything, we are not chasing corporations, we are chasing talent,” Stanton says. “Talented young people want to move to a city that reflects their values. So you better have strong policies when it comes to sustainability if you are in the talent attraction business.”

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