The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has reviewed the preliminary “2020 Community Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Report.” We are very pleased to see that estimated GHG emissions in 2020 were 24% below 2005 levels, or 4% better than the goal. We note, however, that the significant decrease in emissions compared to 2019 is unlikely to be repeated in 2021 compared to 2020, and we urge City Council and staff not to becoming complacent about our ability to make further progress.
The Report, which will be finalized later this year, states that the 17% drop in GHG emissions just since 2019 can be attributed to three main factors: bringing the Roundhouse Wind Energy Project fully online, a decrease in Industrial Process and Product Use (IPPU) emissions, and a decrease in travel-related emissions attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Weather and other unspecified factors apparently worked in our favor as well.
We look forward to learning more about the second factor when the final version of the report is published. We believe the second factor results from a significant drop in F-gas emissions from the electronics manufacturer, Broadcom. We wonder whether that decrease results from process improvements and the addition of emission controls, or whether it simply results from lower production due to unfavorable economic conditions. If the latter is the case, IPPU emissions could rise again if economic conditions improve.
Additionally, we point out that the lower travel-related emissions are unlikely to be sustained in 2021, as COVID-related restrictions have partially lifted. Finally, we note that our electricity supply has not become significantly cleaner in 2021 than it was in 2020, so we cannot expect major improvements as a result of that factor this year.
In our comments on the City’s 2022 Recommended Budget, the FCSG stated that in order to achieve our 2030 community goal, we will need to reduce our GHG emissions by approximately 6.7% per year over the coming decade. Although the community’s performance in 2020 was somewhat better than we anticipated it would be, we believe that the annual reduction required will be about the same as we estimated previously. That is because of the transitory nature of transportation and weather-related emissions reductions in 2020, and the uncertainty in the reductions associated with electronics manufacture. It is therefore important that the City plan to make greater sustained annual GHG emissions reductions than those proposed in the 2022 Recommended Budget, and to make the investments necessary for achieving those reductions.