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For the first time, Boston has a chief climate officer

Boston's new Chief Climate Officer, Brian Swett. Courtesy City of Bosto
Boston's new Chief Climate Officer, Brian Swett. Courtesy City of Bosto

Mayor Michelle Wu is creating a new position for the city of Boston — chief climate officer — and appointing city hall veteran Brian Swett for the role. Swett served as Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space from 2012 to 2015 and is currently a Principal at Arup, a global engineering, design and consulting firm focused on sustainable development.

During his earlier tenure at city hall, Swett developed an ordinance called BERDO that requires building owners to report and reduce greenhouse gas emission from their properties. He also oversaw the creation of a rental re-inspection ordinance, and launched Climate Ready Boston, to help the city prepare for the impacts of climate change.

This time around, Swett says he has three priorities: decarbonizing the building and transportation sectors, transitioning to clean energy, and preparing the city for climate-related flooding and extreme heat. He’ll also focus on addressing climate change across city departments.

“We have firm 2030 targets in a lot of different areas that need to be met in order for us to really bend the curve in a positive direction on climate action,” Swett said. “And I think the alignment of city, state and federal is phenomenal right now. You know, so if we can’t do this in Boston, where else in the country or the world can we?”

The chief climate officer will lead the Environment, Energy and Open Space cabinet, which includes the Environment Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Office of Food Justice. This cabinet is currently overseen by Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, who will be leaving on April 26. Additionally, Swett will work to develop and co-lead a new climate cabinet alongside Boston’s Green New Deal Director, Oliver Sellers-Garcia.

Swett will begin the new job of chief climate officer in mid-June.

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