Climate change is a phenomenon of critical concern. The impacts of climate change can already be observed in many places around the world and in the United States. From rising sea levels, to major wildfires, and changing weather patterns, climate change is already affecting human health, water supplies, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Although climate change cannot be avoided entirely, the most severe impacts of climate change can be minimized by substantially reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) released into the atmosphere. To prepare for the impacts that are already locked in by past emissions, adaptation planning is needed to limit the damage caused by climate change and the long-term costs of responding to climate-related impacts.
All levels of government, the private sector, and citizens have roles to play in addressing climate change. Some aspects of the climate problem are best addressed at the local government level, such as greenhouse gas emission reductions through smart growth, transportation planning, and conserving energy in government buildings. The City of Alexandria has taken multiple steps to ensure we do our part to fight the climate crisis.
Partnerships and Pledges
The City of Alexandria has signed onto and/or supported several climate change partnerships and pledges:
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). The City works with COG to develop a region wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory and a corresponding downscaled GHG inventory for the City.
- We Are Still In. Over 3,500 organizations including 282 cities and counties and the City of Alexandria have signed onto the We Are Still In declaration as a joint statement of support for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
- The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Over 1,000 mayors have vowed to reduce carbon emissions in their cities below 1990 levels, in line with the Kyoto Protocol. The City signed onto this agreement in 2005.
The City collaborates with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) to prepare a GHG Inventory roughly every three years for both the community and City government. The first inventory was completed for calendar year 2005 in 2009 and since then the City has calculated an inventory for 2012 and 2015. Results from the latest inventory show that despite a 12% growth in population, GHG emissions reduced from 1.89 MMTCO2e (million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2005 to 1.64 MMTCO2e in 2015. Per capita emissions decreased 22% from 2005 to 11.0 MTCO2e per person in 2015.
- 2015 City of Alexandria Community-Wide GHG Inventory
- 2012 City of Alexandria Community-Wide GHG Inventory
- 2005 City of Alexandria Community-Wide GHG Inventory
Energy and Climate Change Action Plan 2012 – 2020 (eCAP)
The City of Alexandria developed the eCAP in 2011 to build on the work done in developing the Environmental Action Plan 2030 and further define the City’s path to achieving significant GHG emission reductions. The report lays out the potential local impacts of climate change (known in 2011), the steps the City had already undertaken to address climate change, and steps the City could take to mitigate and adapt to future climate change. Stay tuned for information on the update to the City’s eCAP!
City government operations generate only 4 percent of the City’s total GHG emissions. The remaining 96 percent comes from the community, visitors, and related travel associated with the city. If the City wishes to meet a goal of 80 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, it will need support by all who live, work, visit, and enjoy the city.
Please refer to the Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Green Purchasing, and Electric Vehicle sections to learn more about available options to reduce your carbon footprint.
A great first step to lowering your carbon emissions is to calculate your carbon footprint. The EPA provides a great resource with their GHG Household Emissions Calculator.