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Knoxville sets greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for 2030, 2050

The first new goal is to further reduce emissions from City operations by 50 percent by 2030.
Credit: Burk, Tonja
A photo of Gay Street shared on Twitter by Knoxville mayor Madeline Rogero.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — The City of Knoxville met its goal to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 – a year ahead of schedule. 

On Tuesday, August 13, City Council endorsed new goals recommended by Mayor Madeline Rogero and the Office of Sustainability for further reducing emissions from City operations and the community as a whole in coming decades.

The first new goal is to further reduce emissions from City operations by 50 percent by 2030, using 2005 emissions as a baseline. This goal aims to improve the energy efficiency of facilities, vehicles, street lights, traffic signals and other City operations.

A second goal is more ambitious and far-reaching: to reduce community-wide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

“Our next-generation sustainability goals for 2030 and 2050 are bold but realistic,” Mayor Rogero said. “Keep in mind, there were skeptics who thought we would never meet our 20 percent reduction goal. But we’ve crossed that finish line with the LED streetlight retrofit – a switchover that also saves taxpayers $2 million a year.

“Future Mayors and City Councils should continue to make smart, fiscally responsible investments and operational innovations that achieve significant emission reductions. We’ve shown you can maintain high-quality City services while saving money and reducing emissions.

“The 2050 communitywide goal requires collaboration with businesses and homeowners, as well as our many partners already working to promote energy efficiency and a lower-carbon future. The City is an agent of change, and our commitment and leadership by example will help motivate others to work with us toward these targets.”

Sustainability Director Erin Gill said the first step in the planning process is the completion of an updated inventory of municipal and community emissions, which will provide a benchmark for accurately measuring progress.

“This inventory will allow us to quantify our current performance in relation to where we aim to be in coming decades,” Gill said. “We anticipate being able to share the results of this inventory this winter.”

It’s important to note, Gill said, that Knoxville is not just raising the bar in the region.

“We are a national sustainability leader,” she said.

For more details about the proposed 2030 and 2050 goals, visit the city's sustainability page.

In the coming months, the City Office of Sustainability will lead a variety of community conversations to inform the development of a plan for how Knoxville can meet these goals.

If you would like to learn more about and be involved in this community conversation, please fill out a short survey so that Sustainability staff can contact you about upcoming opportunities to engage in this planning process.