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City creates new plan to tackle climate change in Austin

The 2020 Austin Climate Equity Plan calls for more electric vehicles and more trees in the city to help address the impacts of climate change.

AUSTIN, Texas — Tackling climate change is a big priority for city leaders and there’s a new plan they’re considering adopting now.

The 2020 Austin Climate Equity Plan is an updated plan as part of the outcome of a 2015 city council resolution. The goal is to reach net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but under the new plan, that timeline has sped up 10 years.

Under the plan’s new recommendations, the city is doubling down on efforts to get people out of their cars and instead using public transit or bikes. Another solution would be switching from gas to electric vehicles.

   

Currently, only about 1% of vehicle miles are electric in Austin. The goal is for that to become 40% by 2030.

“Dramatically increasing that and essentially making electric vehicles accessible by all where charging is easy and simple and electric vehicles save people money because electric vehicles are more efficient. The fuel is cheaper and they're just simpler and cheaper to operate,” said Zach Baumer, the climate program manager for the City of Austin.

Another key part of the plan focuses on natural systems – things such as trees, parks and landscaping. By 2050, the hope is to have the city 50% covered with tree canopy, which could help keep the city cooler as the climate heats up.

WATCH: New plan to tackle climate change in Austin 

“Trees are not only like public amenities and they're good for ecosystems, but they cool our city as the city gets hotter and hotter, as the climate begins to change more. Having shade is just a win-win in all situations,” Baumer said.

The city also prioritized aspects of the plan to focus on low-income communities and communities of color, including making sure that new housing units are located close to services such as grocery stores and schools, which would help increase access to better mobility options.

The plan is open for community feedback through Sept. 30. It’s expected to go before the council for approval in late October.

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