Across the U.S., local governments work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
For localities looking to effect significant change in the fight against climate change, 2018 is a defining moment.
How can smaller communities measure progress against goals? Where can they get data for broad-based inventories, specific sector initiatives, and performance measurement?
Collecting and compiling GHG inventories, carbon footprints, and other baseline datasets — and integrating it into a tool that enables updates and scenario analysis — can be labor-intensive. Tools are available to help communities looking to develop baseline inventories and assess progress towards goal. EPA’s local greenhouse gas inventory tool can be used to develop a baseline inventory. GHG Protocol’s tools for cities/counties can be used to assess progress toward GHG reduction goals and estimate the impact of policies and actions. The willing collaboration of energy suppliers, state agencies, and others can be essential to developing rigorous data. In Philadelphia, the new Greenworks dashboard integrates data, indicators, and graphics in an easy-to-read online format.
How are communities measuring local co-benefits such as air quality and health?
Some communities are beginning to examine climate action plans and GHG reduction strategies through the lens of local benefits that can be measured in terms of jobs, economic development, improved air quality, and improved health. These kinds of analyses may be increasingly important in building the broad base of support needed to gain long-term traction for climate policy implementation. For example, New York City has measured the local air quality impacts of programs such as Clean Heat, which reduces both GHG and criteria air pollutant emissions by converting old oil boilers and furnaces to efficient natural gas systems.
How have risk management and resilience factored into GHG reduction strategies?
While climate change remains controversial in some policy circles, local action on adaptation and resilience has quickly moved to the practical solutions stage as droughts, floods, sea level, and other climate impacts present tangible risks with concrete solutions. In many communities, such efforts have moved beyond partisan debates to consensus solutions. The U.S. federal government’s Climate Resilience Toolkit provides case studies and resources for local governments and others to pursue adaption and other resilience strategies.
Want to continue the conversation? Learn more about strategies and partnerships to meet ambitious local climate goals at the Climate Leadership Conference in Denver February 28 – March 2, where Bill will moderate a panel of local climate and sustainability leaders, including Vicki Bennett from Salt Lake City, Tom Herrod from Denver, and Jeff Thompson of Wisconsin’s Gunderson Health System. If you haven’t already, register for the conference here and use CLC-ICF-15 for 15% off registration.
Dana Coffman is a Development Associate with the Climate Registry.