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Published on April 17, 2024
Boston Appoints Sustainability Veteran Brian Swett as First Chief Climate Officer in Mayor Wu’s Green CrusadeSource: City of Boston

Boston is beefing up its fight against climate change by naming a new climate czar. Brian Swett, a vet in the sustainability field, is set to become the city's first Chief Climate Officer, a position Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration announced Wednesday. Swett, who's had his hand in the environmental pot as Boston’s environment cabinet chief for two previous mayors, is making a comeback to city government, all in the service of Wu’s ambitious climate agenda.

Wu, who campaigned on a Green New Deal slate, is hell-bent on slashing Boston’s carbon footprint and getting the city climate ready. Swett's appointment is to directly serve these interests. According to the Boston Globe, his new gig will start come June and will see him spearhead the charge to aggressively transition the city to sustainable practices. This follows on the heels of Wu rolling out a massive $75 million fund to snag state and federal climate resilience grants for Boston’s fiscal year 2025 budget.

Swett is no stranger to the climate game. During his stint from 2012 to 2015 as the city’s chief of environment, energy, and open space, he was pivotal in developing the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) which pushes building owners to clean up their act on greenhouse gas emissions. He also launched the lauded Climate Ready Boston initiative, and now, with his return, he’s vowing to decarbonize the building and transportation sectors, push for clean energy, and prep the city for the harsh realities of climate-related extremes.

Swett plans to quickly get to work once he assumes office. "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 in a statement obtained by WBUR. He's also got his sights set on fostering synergy across city departments, hammering the point that Boston has a ripe alignment of city, state, and federal frameworks to make significant climate headway.

Further fleshing out his role, Swett will be at the helm of the Environment, Energy and Open Space cabinet. This includes a few key city departments focused on the environment, parks and recreation, historic preservation, and food justice. Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, who currently oversees this cabinet, will be stepping down shortly, on April 26. Additionally, Swett’s duties extend to developing and co-leading a new climate cabinet alongside Boston’s Green New Deal Director, Oliver Sellers-Garcia, aimed at harmonizing the city’s climate initiatives.