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Mayor Briley Marks Earth Day by Announcing Let’s Move Nashville is Equivalent to Planting 1 Million Trees

4/21/2018

Mayor David Briley today announced new data highlighting the immense environmental benefits the Let’s Move Nashville transit program would have on the city, including up to $7.2 million in annual savings from reduced carbon pollution, or the equivalent of planting 1 million mature trees.

The report, released by the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Sustainability, states that implementation of the transit program would take thousands of cars off the roads, and by doing so would avoid pollution-based damage to human and environmental health. The $7.2 million in avoided expense represents an annual reduction in emissions of about 22,235 metric tons of greenhouse gases, or the same amount of energy used to power 3,333 homes each year.

“I’m committed to doing all we can to protect the environment, and that includes targeted reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor David Briley at Nashville’s Earth Day celebration held today at Centennial Park. “One of the best ways for us to do that, to preserve our health and our natural resources, is actually to build an environmentally-friendly transportation system.”

The Mayor also stated a commitment to implementing science-informed CO2-reduction goals for the city as outlined by the Livable Nashville Committee’s Climate and Energy Subcommittee. In 2017, this group of local environmental experts recommended an ambitious, measurable set of greenhouse gas emissions-reductions goals appropriate for Nashville. Their recommendation, endorsed by Mayor Briley, is for Nashville to reduce its citywide GHG emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

The Southern Environmental Law Center helped obtain third-party, science-informed advice on the recommended targets for GHG reductions that Nashville (and cities like it) should meet in order to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change. Metro’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory was used as a baseline from which to set these targets. That inventory found transportation accounted for 37 percent of Nashville’s GHG emissions, which had risen markedly since the previous inventory due to growth in both population and traffic congestion.

“With over a third of Nashville’s greenhouse-gas emissions attributed to transportation, achieving urgently-needed reductions to combat a changing climate will be unrealistic-to-impossible unless more trips are taken by lower-carbon modes,” said Mary Vavra of Transit Now Nashville, who chaired the Livable Nashville Mobility subcommittee. “The time is now to invest in the transit infrastructure to support that shift.”

People with lung disease (including asthma), older adults, and young children experience adverse health effects from toxic air pollution. For this reason, the Metro Public Health Department often declares Nashville’s hottest summer days as “Ozone Action Days,” during which residents are encouraged to refrain from driving and take public transportation instead. In 2016, federal data revealed that for the first time since 1979, transportation emitted more carbon pollution than any other part of the U.S. economy, including the electric power, industrial, residential, and commercial sectors.

Nashville is a signatory to the Global Covenant of Mayors—the world’s largest cooperative and measured effort among cities to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The agreement obligates Nashville to inventory both municipal and community-scale greenhouse gas emissions on a recurring basis; establish reduction goals to mitigate carbon pollution identified in those inventories, track progress toward achieving those goals; and develop a plan for Nashville to adapt to a warming climate. Metro’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, the Livable Nashville recommendations, and membership in Rockefeller’s Network of 100 Resilient Cities are all major steps forward in meeting these requirements.

Mayor Briley served as a member of the Livable Nashville Committee on behalf of the Metropolitan Council while serving as Vice Mayor. He provided input into the Green Buildings subcommittee’s recommendations, which seek to reduce emissions, water use, and other environmental impacts attributed to Metro facilities, as well as those from commercial, industrial, and residential properties.

View the technical memo detailing the environmental benefits of Let’s Move Nashville

Read the Livable Nashville Committee’s recommendations, along with a summary of Metro’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory