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Progress Update

January 2023 Assessment

The Climate Reality Team
January 9, 2023

The City of Ithaca is making progress in many areas of the IGND plan. In our second assessment, we see a great deal of positive activity. Several major plan components are drafted and only require Common Council review and approval before completion.

A commission is being formed to advise the City specifically on sustainability and climate justice matters. Like the Scorecard, the Sustainability and Climate Justice Commission will expand engagement and transparency. Additionally, a number of changes are being made to portions of the plan (detailed below). We believe these changes are normal and positive as an expanding number of city and community members offer their expertise and insights.

Current ratings for the ten scorecard elements remain unchanged since our last assessment:

Not Started: Transportation, Waste Management and Food Systems
In Progress: Democratic Engagement, Workforce Development, Grid Decarbonization, Plan Built Environment, Carbon Neutral Hydrogen
Stalled: Justice50, Climate Action Plan
Ongoing: Regional and International Cooperation

Not Started and Stalled

Please note that “Not Started” is not a negative rating, as these elements are scheduled to be worked later in the plan. Additionally, a “Stalled” status may be justifiable and temporary. For example:

  • As noted above, the City is in the process of forming a Sustainability and Climate Justice Commission. Getting the commission approved, up and running has temporarily slowed progress on some plan elements.
  • The Climate Action Plan and Green House Gas emissions inventory have been completed. However, the plan needs to be approved by Common Council to proceed.

In Progress

Elements that are in progress are considered to be moving forward appropriately. We see sufficient action being taken for the City to achieve their goal and schedule commitments. Specifically for this assessment:

  • Work is progressing well on Democratic Engagement. An external group, United Leaders, has been engaged to create a Green New Deal community education and engagement plan.
  • The Community Choice Aggregation plan, an important contributor to grid decarbonization, moved another step forward when Common Council voted on December 7 to adopt a local law that represents the second of three necessary green lights. The next internal review of the implementation plan will be on January 9, 2023. The Southwest Park solar project is progressing, though at a smaller scope than originally planned (3.5MW vs. 5W). The next decision point for this part of the project will be the Economic Development meeting on January 10, 2023.

Changes to the Overall IGND Plan

  • The passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has prompted some change in thinking around some elements of the Transportation portion of the plan. While substantial, some of the IRA incentives may not be available until 2024, leaving some time for the City to consider options.
  • There has been a change in strategy around micro-mobility (scooters, eBikes, etc.). Rather than the City establishing this program, a community-based option is being explored. Micro-mobility is a smaller element of the Transportation segment of the overall plan.
  • The green hydrogen plan has changed to remove waste as a potential source. Instead the City would use solar and water electrolysis to produce non-fossil hydrogen. There will be more discussion on this as they move forward.

We see significant progress being made by the City on the IGND plan. We are also very pleased with the amount of notice the Scorecard is receiving. To date, over 300 unique users have visited the site! Attention draws feedback, and we welcome it. If you have feedback for us, please let us know.

We will move to quarterly scorecard assessments in 2023, with the next being delivered in April.