When it comes to addressing climate change and pollution, Duluth aims to lead by example. Mayor Larson originally committed the City of Duluth to meet the standards set through the Paris Agreement, to reduce emissions 80% by 2050, based on 2008 levels. However, in 2021, the City Council approved a Climate Emergency Declaration which pushed for us to exceed those goals. Since then, the City has now adopted a science-based goal, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Climate action by the City is guided by the Climate Action Work Plan, which was first presented to City Council on February 14, 2022. Implementation of the Work Plan is tracked through annual progress reports:
Duluth’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in municipal operations are a collaboration between the Sustainability Office and the Energy Team. Municipal emissions of greenhouse gasses from City operations are represented in the graph below (expressed in Carbon Dioxide-equivalent or CO2e). We use CO2e so we can easily compare emissions of multiple greenhouse gases from year to year. These calculations are based on Duluth's energy use data (electricity, natural gas, and gasoline/diesel use) that is uploaded into the Clear Path greenhouse gas calculator from ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). Clear Path employs emissions standards set by the Local Government Operations (LGO) Protocol. By combining LGO with our unique city data, Clear Path ensures the City of Duluth has the most accurate emissions calculations possible. Since 2021, the City reports emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project. For the 2022 greenhouse gas inventory there was an increase in vehicle fleet emissions. This increase reflects enhanced data collection techniques for fleet vehicles resulting in tracked emissions not accounted for in previous inventories (along with one of the snowiest Decembers on record).
Comparison of CO2e by sector and year over all official inventories
||Buildings and Facilities
||Street Lights and Traffic Signals
||Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities
2008 - baseline emissions emissions year, calculated by Wenck Associates, Inc. This baseline is what we compare current emission levels to, to measure the success of our carbon reduction strategies.
1996 - carbon inventory calculated using ICLEI's Clear Path tool, and it reveals that the City of Duluth's greenhouse gas emissions remained relatively steady until establishment of an energy fund and prioritizing emissions reductions.