Environmental protection is important to the City of Dallas and the people who live here. Clean air, clean water, and clean communities are essential to a high quality of life; thus, the City of Dallas is committed to being a leader in this area. As part of that commitment, the City has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In 2006, then-Mayor Laura Miller signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on behalf of the City, pledging to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 7% from 1990 levels by 2012. More recently, Mayor Mike Rawlings committed to support the Climate Mayors Agreement. The City, for its part, has been working to reduce emissions from City operations by 39% from 1990 levels by 2017.
Since Mayor Miller’s initial commitment, the City of Dallas has initiated a wide variety of strategies and projects to address air quality and reduce emissions. The City’s commitment to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions include the purchase of 100% renewable energy, inclusion of electric and alternative fueled vehicles for the City’s fleet, building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified City buildings that consume less energy, water, and resources; and, improving the energy efficiency of existing City buildings. These are all positive steps on the road to a clean and healthy community.
The question remains: how does the City measure progress and verify that the goals are met? The best tool to determine progress is an emission inventory of greenhouse gases. The emission inventory is a process of tabulating all greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from City vehicles, the McCommas Bluff landfill, and those associated with the generation of electricity used by City facilities, to identify how the city is progressing. Once all the sources are identified, 365 days of data is used to calculate the emissions of greenhouse gases for that one-year period.
Dallas conducted its first inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for the years between 1990 and 2005. This inventory established a baseline to measure progress in subsequent years in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. A second inventory was done to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 to 2010. The results of the 2010 inventory show that the City of Dallas reduced greenhouse gas emissions 7% community-wide from 1990 levels, thereby meeting the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement signed in 2006.
Now the time has come to undertake a new inventory to determine how reductions are progressing and to determine if the City itself met the City Council’s goal of a 39% reduction from 1990 levels by 2017. Data from the calendar year of 2015, currently being collected, will be used to calculate progress. A detailed, globally recognized process will be used to ensure parity with other cities around the world. Once ready, the Office of Environmental Quality will announce the conclusions. The goal is to have this process completed by summer of 2018.
It is important for this inventory to be as accurate and detailed as possible. Not only will this inventory be used to measure progress on reaching current goals, but will also be used to create a city-wide plan for further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Creating a plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions will ensure that the City of Dallas continues to lead the way among Texas cities in reducing greenhouse gases and mitigating the impacts of emissions on the climate.