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Progress Update

Plan to Cut City Transportation Emissions in Half Kicks Off

The Climate Reality Team
May 31, 2023

We are pleased to report that the City has taken a solid step forward in curbing emissions and realizing their commitments under the Ithaca Green New Deal.

The City’s comprehensive plan includes fleet electrification and improving EV charging infrastructure. In the first quarter of 2023, City representatives kicked off the process of considering supplier options. This is a positive step forward and important for the City to meet its commitment to electrify 50% of its fleet by 2025. As a result, we have changed the status of the Transportation scorecard element from Not Started to In Progress. We encourage the City to aggressively work fleet electrification and achieve the 50% reduction by 2025.

More broadly, a summary of our First Quarter 2023 Assessment for all ten scorecard goals follows. Aside from Transportation, the status of all top-level goals remains unchanged. However, progress has been made in many of the sub-goals. For an updated overview of our scores, check out the scorecard.

We believe the City is making good progress overall, but we’ve called out the areas requiring more attention. We look forward to our next assessment at the end of June.

Not Started

Waste Management and Food Systems

This element of the plan is proving to be one of the more difficult. The plan includes changing the way we think about and manage the garbage and food waste we create. For example, the current view is that consumers are responsible for discarding product packaging. The concept of producer responsibility transfers that responsibility from the purchaser to the company selling the product. The City’s plan includes moving toward a better balance between consumer and producer responsibilities for waste. Similarly, many residents currently dispose of food scraps as garbage. When landfilled, food waste creates a large amount of methane—a very harmful greenhouse gas. The City’s plan would facilitate direct, large-scale collection of food waste for composting.

In Progress

Democratic Engagement

Progress is being made here, specifically:

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension–Tompkins County is planning town halls to provide an opportunity for community members to learn more about the Green New Deal, electrification, and available incentives.
  • The City has received congressionally directed funding for public education and engagement.

Workforce Development

This element of the City’s plan involves two key components: first, the creation of a Green Jobs Corridor (GJC) taskforce composed of representatives from across Ithaca, Binghamton, Elmira, Syracuse, and Rochester to attract a broad applicant pool focused on people from historically marginalized communities to fill high-quality jobs; and, second, the Roots of Success Green Energy training program. This quarter we saw significant movement in both areas:

  • Each geographic area within the GJC is planning and delivering clean energy career summits.
  • A pilot program continues in Southern Tier with informational interviews with key partners including the NAACP, The American Civic Association, major employers, Trust Builders, the Endicott Community Center and the Acting STEM Dean at SUNY Broome.
  • The Tompkins County inaugural Roots of Success class has been completed, and the program status changes to “Ongoing.”

Grid Decarbonization Plan

The four prongs of the grid decarbonization plan—ground-mounted solar, utility-scale solar, Community Choice Aggregation and distribution—are all underway. The City must deliver comprehensive plans to build out the required capabilities. Plans must be delivered this year—except for Distribution Upgrades, which will require a longer planning phase and partnering with entities outside of the City.

Built Environment and Carbon Neutral Hydrogen

We are planning deeper dives into these elements in the next assessment.


As stated above, the City has made a solid step forward in fleet electrification and EV charging infrastructure.



While this vital portion of the plan remains stalled, we believe the formation and launch of the City’s Sustainability and Climate Justice Commission is a very positive step in the right direction. We are optimistic that convening this group of experts and stakeholders to advise the City demonstrates the kind of citizen engagement needed to drive Justice50.  

Climate Action Plan

Climate Action Planning is a way to further engage all facets of the City government in support of its Green New Deal commitments. Currently, we are not aware of any individual departmental emissions reduction or efficiency goals having been requested or created. A great deal of climate planning work has been completed by the Sustainability Office. Still, that work has languished, unaddressed. We encourage the City to take time to acknowledge, review and advance Climate Action Planning. The Sustainability and Climate Justice Commission should be a key contributor in this and related efforts.


Regional and International Cooperation

This work has been completed, and we continue to monitor only to ensure it remains in place.