Climate Change is a major environmental issue affecting both human health and natural ecosystems. When fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, are burned carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, where it builds up and traps heat. This will likely increase the frequency and strength of extreme weather events, increase heat-related illness, and worsen air quality. In metropolitan Washington, there has already been a rise in average annual temperature and sea level in the Potomac River and these trends are expected to continue.
COG's Climate and Energy Program is one of the nation's first initiatives to address heat-trapping emissions on a regional level. The regional effort is led by the Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC), which was created by the COG Board of Directors to provide leadership on climate change, energy, green building, alternative fuels, solid waste and recycling issues, and to help support area governments as they work together to meet the goals outlined in the National Capital Region Climate Change Report.
The program provides a roadmap and tools to communities seeking more sustainable options for growth and development. Communities in the region are implementing renewable energy, energy efficiency, purchasing green power, facilitating electric vehicle adoption, and other programs to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The region has met its 2012 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions back down to 2005 levels. COG will continue to work with its regional partners to meet the 2020 goal of 20 percent below 2005 level. In addition, COG’s climate preparedness work supports communities in making responsible decisions to manage future climate risks.
National Capital Region Climate Change Report
In 2008, the COG Board approved the National Capital Region Climate Change Report, which includes significant greenhouse gas reduction goals for the region including 10 percent below business as usual projections by 2012 (back down to 2005 levels), 20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. The plan includes recommendations to help area leaders and citizens meet the targets.
Regional Climate and Energy Action Plan and Resource Guide
CEEPC has adopted the Regional Climate and Energy Action Plan to provide a roadmap for local jurisdictions to work towards regional greenhouse gas goals. The plan puts forth 59 recommended actions for local governments aimed at reducing the carbon impact of the built environment, energy, and transportation sectors while increasing resiliency and improving education and outreach.
National Capital Region Annual Climate and Energy Reports
The Annual Climate and Energy Progress Reports detail the extensive work done by area governments in the region to advance regional climate and energy goals.