Interview: John Cleveland

Executive Director
Boston Green Ribbon Commission
Published in the dossier of July 2017

What is the GRC and its mission?

It is made up of leaders of Boston’s largest property-owning businesses, educational institutions and hospitals, as well as top representatives from the three major utilities. Others come from the construction, finance, consulting and hospitality industries, as well as the faith community and non-profit organizations. We support the city’s Climate Action Plan, which sets ambitious goals of cutting emissions by 25% by 2020 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

How do you do this?

Through the Carbon Free Boston initiative, the GRC and other leaders are working to quantify the most effective combination of technologies and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the electric power, buildings, transportations and waste sectors. The result will be highly specific, sector-based, policy-driven strategies to transition from carbon-based fuels to 100% clean and renewable energy sources in every sector of the economy by 2050.

Where are you today?

We’ve started our journey toward transitioning from carbon-based fuels. However, a lot needs to happen before we get to the point of being able to decarbonize our entire electricity grid, for example. In other areas like changing our transportation modes and fuels, we have a long way to go.

How is Veolia contributing?

Veolia is playing an important role in our bridge strategy as we transition to a carbon-free future. They are also contributing to greater resilience and reliability as we move toward a higher concentration of district energy, which is less vulnerable than centralized generation. We are really glad they are at the table as we design our strategy toward achieving Boston’s end goal of zero carbon. Their deep technical expertise will be invaluable as we get into the nitty-gritty of what a redesigned energy system will need to look like.

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