Metro Nashville sets new community-wide greenhouse gas reduction targets

Nashville's newly adopted pollution reduction goals will benefit Nashville residents and the environment.

Guest Blog | February 17, 2022 | Energy Policy, Tennessee

This blog post was written by Brady Watson, former Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

On February 2, 2022, Metro Nashville government formally adopted a goal to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050. The goal came out of Mayor John Cooper’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, which was announced in December of 2019 and formed in February 2020. The committee met several times over the course of 2020 and released a report with several recommendations for climate mitigation strategies in early 2021, including the GHG reduction target. To work toward achieving the targeted pollution reduction, the Mayor’s Office is working with Metro departments and community partners on a draft implementation plan.

The City has made progress in recent years, and between 2014 and 2017 Nashville saw community-wide greenhouse gas emissions decrease by 9.8% per capita. An 80% reduction in GHG pollution from across all sectors in the city represents major progress in addressing the climate crisis, and will improve life for Nashville residents. The goal also will help Nashville achieve gains that will set the city up to further increase their ambition in the coming years, and get 100% emissions reductions by 2050, in line with what climate science deems necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

“America’s cities are on the front lines of combating climate change and increasing our resilience to natural disasters,” Mayor Cooper said in a news release about the climate goal. “Nashville has brought a sense of urgency and a practical, collaborative approach to getting this work done. We made strong gains in 2021, and I’m committed to doing more.”

Nashville Skyline - credit Tanner Boriack on Unsplash
Photo credit: Tanner Boriack on Unsplash

Metro Nashville already had a 100% renewable energy goal for government operations. Toward that end, Metro Council passed an ordinance in January 2022 to conduct a feasibility study for more than 600 city-owned sites on their potential for solar installations. Nashville’s 100% renewable energy goal, however, does not extend to electricity used by non-government entities, so another recommendation of the Sustainability Advisory Committee was for the city to set a community-wide goal of 100% carbon-free electricity, a goal which we at SACE support.

With this move, Nashville joins other Tennessee cities such as Knoxville in setting community wide GHG reduction targets. SACE will continue to monitor progress on climate goals in Nashville and other Southeastern cities, and provide updates as they develop. 

Additionally, Mayor Cooper announced the city’s intention to plant 500,000 trees in Davidson County by 2050. This comes on the heels of legislation passed in 2021 to invest roughly 1 percent of revenues from the city’s construction activities into Nashville’s tree canopy. 

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