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City banks on new tech to meet climate goals

  • 5 mths ago

Palo Alto, California faces a tough road ahead to meeting its climate change goals, but Mayor Pat Burt believes the city can still achieve its objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030.

In an interview Wednesday, Burt pointed to a number of promising trends and emerging technologies that could accelerate the city's push toward the "80x30" goal that the City Council established in 2016 and that uses 1990 as the baseline. Even though the city has only reduced its emissions by about 42% when one discounts the pandemic's impact on traffic, Burt suggested that the rapid advancements of these technologies could make the goal feasible despite years of lackluster progress.

One such area is heat-pump water heaters, which city leaders see as an environmentally superior alternative to gas-powered heaters and a key component to meeting the 80x30 goal. To get to even a 70% reduction by 2030 would require converting more than 75% of all water and space heaters in local single-family homes to electric heat pumps. This means that over 11,000 gas water heaters and nearly 9,800 gas space heaters would need to be switched out.

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