A Multi-Sector Working Group (MSWG) of subject matter experts from local governments and regional and state transportation, planning, and environmental agencies convened by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has developed a set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-reduction strategies in the Energy and Built Environment, Land Use, and Transportation sectors for the metropolitan Washington region.
The group’s work was reviewed by a task force comprised of elected officials – representing the COG Board of Directors, the Transportation Planning Board, the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee, and the Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee – who gathered further input from department directors and senior staff from the local, regional, and state agencies to finalize the recommendations.
The strategies reflect the current consensus among area officials on actions that are both technically viable and cost-effective. The following are the key takeaways from the recommendations, which were approved by the COG Board of Directors at its January meeting:
The strategies help move the region towards its emission reduction goals
The region’s interim goal first set in the National Capital Region Climate Change Report is to reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent below the 2005 baseline. Its long-term goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent below the 2005 baseline by 2050. The MSWG’s 20 recommended strategies lay out steps that can be taken now to move the region toward meeting these emissions-reduction goals and mitigate climate change.
“The strategies represent a set of actions that can be implemented by local and regional members in our communities, such as increasing the use of alternate fuel vehicles or reducing a building’s energy use,” said COG Deputy Executive Director Stuart Freudberg. “We will continue to evaluate how well we are doing to reduce emissions, such as through periodic greenhouse gas emission inventories, so that we will be able to revise our plans moving forward as needed.”
The strategies have multiple benefits
Although the strategies are primarily based on what can be done to help reduce emissions, there are many additional benefits, such as reducing other air pollutants, traffic congestion, and energy bills. For example, reducing emissions from electric generating facilities would help metropolitan Washington meet air pollution limits for ozone, improving traffic operations on roadways would reduce the amount of time drivers spend sitting in traffic jams, and improving the energy efficiency of new buildings would have the added benefit of reducing residents’ monthly energy bills.
The strategies are implementable at all levels
Actions to implement the strategies can be taken by regional, jurisdictional, state, federal, and private entities. Since the strategies are voluntary, entities may implement them in different ways. Some localities, or regional or state agencies may not be able to implement all strategies as they may not be applicable or it lacks the authority to implement.
The recommendations recognize that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a complex issue and the process of developing these recommendations has highlighted that actions are needed at all levels, from the federal and state governments to local governments and individuals.