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Philadelphia Commits to Carbon-Neutrality by 2050 & Announces First Environmental Justice Commission
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Philadelphia Commits to Carbon-Neutrality by 2050 & Announces First Environmental Justice Commission

City also announces first Chief Resilience Officer & drops a Climate Action Playbook

New year, new climate goals.

The Office of Sustainability announced four major points of climate news today during a virtual press conference.

Here are the key takeaways from today’s event.

1. Philadelphia to go Carbon Neutral by 2050

Mayor Kenney and the Office of Sustainability announced a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, surpassing its previous commitment to reduce emissions 80% by 2050 *(aka 80 x 50). To achieve carbon neutrality, the city would need to generate net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in buildings, energy, transit, and waste sectors.

For Mayor Jim Kenney, this commitment will help meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. “I’m excited for the Biden-Harris Administration to be making climate a priority, and I’d like to collaborate with their administration on ways to scale up the work of cities like Philadelphia in reducing emissions from sectors like buildings and transportation,” said Kenney in a press release.  

2. City announces the first Environmental Justice Commission

The City wants to address racial and class disparities to environmental hazards by providing a platform to individuals.

The Office of Sustainability is assembling an Environmental Justice Commission comprised of individuals with “lived experience of and personal interest” in Philadelphia’s environmental issues like housing and occupational exposure to toxins, water quality, food security and climate change.

The commission will identify where these impacts are and city policies that are barriers to environmental justice.

Interested residents can apply for the commission here:

3. City named Saleem Chapman as first Chief Resilience Officer

Saleem Chapman was named the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) in the Office of Sustainability. The purpose of the role is to “improve Philadelphia’s resilience to climate stressors and increase collaboration in building climate resilience.”

“Between the devastating flooding from Tropical Storm Isaias and the third-hottest summer on record, all of which we experienced while navigating a pandemic, these events have proven that building resilience in communities is more critical than ever before,” said Christine Knapp, Director of the Office of Sustainability. “There has never been a more important time to scale efforts to deliver an equitable, resilient Philadelphia.”

Chapman has helped drive the application of a racial equity lens to sustainability efforts and will also oversee the formation of the Environmental Justice Commission.

Chapman was previously the Deputy Director of Sustainability and previously has experience at PennFuture, Sustainable Business Network, and Clean Air Council.

4. City Drops Climate Action Playbook to combat climate change

The Office of Sustainability released the Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook, a one-stop resource that details how Philadelphia is responding to the climate crisis. It includes steps to reduce emissions and adapt to a hotter, wetter city.

Rather than tackling climate crisis by a piecemeal approach, the playbook compiles existing plans and programs across city departments for comprehensive action.


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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

2 thoughts on “Philadelphia Commits to Carbon-Neutrality by 2050 & Announces First Environmental Justice Commission

  1. Hi Julie, is there another link for the EJ Advisory Interest Form? The link here keeps bringing me back to this page on your site.

  2. Seems like the title for number four is wrong. I think that the city is going to use the Climate Action Playbook, so it’s not going to be dropped. They are going to keep it.

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