The COG Board has approved for comment the National Capital Region Climate Report that includes significant greenhouse gas reduction goals for the region as well as 78 recommendations to help area leaders and citizens meet the targets.
Due to the region’s strong employment and population growth, COG calculates that man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, will increase 33 percent by 2030 and 43 percent by 2050 under a business-as-usual approach. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen at a dramatic rate over the past half century. In order to have a meaningful impact in the fight against climate change, COG’s Climate Change Steering Committee, which authored the report, recommends policies that will:
- by 2012, hold regional greenhouse gas emissions at the 2005 level;
- by 2020, reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below the 2005 level;
- by 2050, reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below the 2005 level.
“Virtually every recommendation in our report would provide significant benefits for our region’s energy use, air quality and growth patterns, that a strong case could be made to take these actions regardless of the climate change benefits,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Floreen, who has chaired COG’s Climate Change Steering Committee since its creation in April 2007.
The report’s main recommendations highlight energy use, transportation and land use. Examples of strategies focused on energy use include improving building efficiency (such as fully implementing COG’s regional Green Building Policy), reducing local government energy usage by 15 percent, and purchasing more renewable energy like wind and solar power.
In regards to transportation, the report recommends supporting California’s low emission vehicle standards, reducing vehicle miles traveled, and using fuels that result in few emissions per gallon. Land use recommendations include increasing development around transit and activity centers as well as preserving more trees throughout the region.
COG’s inventory of the region’s greenhouse gas sources shows that electricity usage accounts for 41 percent of the emissions, transportation accounts for 33 percent, fuel use accounts for 25 percent and other sources account for 4 percent. The vast majority of these greenhouse gas emissions are from burning non-renewable, fossil fuels.
The report also notes an increase in water temperature in the Chesapeake Bay since 1940—half a degree Fahrenheit per decade—which scientists believe will put increased pressure on its delicate ecosystem in the near future.
The climate change report will be posted on COG’s web site and circulated for comment through September 30th for review by COG members, stakeholders and the public. In moving forward, COG will need to develop a detailed plan for meeting the report’s 2012 goal as well as a more intensive fiscal analysis of the cost of implanting the recommendations. The COG Board expects to vote on the final report and recommendations in the fall.
To view the report, please click here.
To submit a public comment on the report, visit the COG website.