The Eugene, Ore., City Council recently passed an ordinance aimed at steeply reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The city of 158,000wants to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and reduce fossil fuel use by 50% by 2030.
Eugene is developing an energy inventory for its entire economy. After that is completed, it will consider voluntary energy-saving measures in the private sector, such as easier permitting for energy-efficient construction and energy performance scores for commercial buildings. The city will also consider other measures like commercial food-waste composting in restaurants and grocery stores to reduce methane emissions from landfills.
Eugene has made significant progress in reducing emissions recently from transportation without any concerted plan. Transportation emissions have dropped 2.5% per year since 2010, despite some population growth. This is largely due to economic and cultural shifts: the recession, the rise of telecommuting, online shopping and entertainment, transit, biking, more efficient cars, and higher gasoline prices. The city has encouraged these trends by improving bus service and developing a master plan for sidewalk and bike path improvements.
City government has rejected hard caps on emissions to date, focusing instead on voluntary measures and incentives for the private sector.