With a concerted effort to bring many voices to the discussion table, Cambridge is creating a city-wide development plan that lets climate change mitigation and resilience take center stage.

Cambridge has embraced a resilience and low-carbon focus in the elaboration of its overall urban development strategy, Envision Cambridge. The new roadmap will develop and design policy recommendations on a broad range of topics such as housing and affordability, mobility, economic opportunity, and urban form, with a particular focus on climate and the environment. As citizen involvement is key to the plan’s success, the city employed a number of creative engagement strategies that reduced barriers to participation in consultation sessions, ensuring diverse communities had a voice in the process. Strategies include providing translators and childcare during consultation sessions and bringing the process directly to communities though mobile meetings.

To support the creation of Envision Cambridge, the city has integrated elements of its past climate and energy plans. Cambridge aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. Envision Cambridge established a number of complementary targets, including decreasing transportation emissions by reducing vehicle ownership 15% below 1990 levels by 2020 and increasing solar photovoltaic generation capacity to 160 MW by 2040.

70% reduction in CO2 emissions from building energy use by 2040 as part of Envision Cambridge

The challenge

While Cambridge has taken a proactive stance on climate resilience for years, it must work to balance long-term planning with the short-term needs of the community and its most vulnerable members. With Envision Cambridge, the city is making sure it listens to the needs of its entire community and incorporates their input into the long-term actions required to ensure the resilience of the city.


Economic By integrating climate preparedness planning into Envision Cambridge, the city will be able to mitigate the effects of environmental disasters, which could otherwise cost the city an estimated $43 million daily.

Environmental Cambridge aims to reduce vehicle ownership by 15% below 1990 levels by 2020 in order to decrease transportation emissions and improve air quality.

Health The city plans to increase the number of trips made by bike to 30% by 2030. The increase in active mobility will have positive health outcomes for the community.

Social Envision Cambridge focuses on engaging the communities that will be most affected by climate change, according to the city’s vulnerability assessment.

About Cambridge

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Situated directly north of the city of Boston, across the Charles River, it was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town’s founders. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), two of the world’s most prestigious universities, are located in Cambridge.

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