I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Seven GHG Inventories
This past week was a busy one at EcoMotion, with the climate action team finalizing seven greenhouse gas inventories for six cities and a tribe in the Coachella Valley. The inventories have taken six months to complete, and involved ten staff including our colleagues Ralph Torrie from Toronto and Rick Heede from Snowmass. Thanks in particular to Russ Flanigan and Aliana Lungo for their leadership and hard work.
Interesting it is to compare the emissions footprints of cities of different sizes and demographics. Precise electric and gas consumption data; transportation data formatting, triangulation and assumptions. Despite blistering heat in the Valley, surprisingly low per capita emissions, on average eight metric tons.
Greenhouse gas inventories help define a community’s “ecological footprint.” They are interesting studies and instructive documents, all about perspective, and driving policies over time. Different protocols specify what’s in and what’s out; experts have strong opinions on the “scope” of the inventories. Fundamentally, inventories specify the jurisdiction’s “contribution” to increasing parts per million of CO2e emissions. Far from the pre-industrial levels of some 280 ppm, we’re at 383 and climbing. The inventories will be instructive tools for preparing the way for “climate action planning.”
Our team has been energized by the rigor of the inventory process. Some 30+ data sources per city; staff is asking for things never asked for before. “What refrigerants?” Well over 100 people were involved. “What do you want/need?” “When?”
One city has two prisons; another, a nationally acclaimed and televised tennis complex. A prestigious hospital; casinos. Rich cities; poor cities. An airport based in one city, but serves the region, as does the interstate and to a lesser extent the rail corridor. (Our national inventory overlooks “fly-over” air travel.) Waste, reclaimed, landfilled, and exported. The tribal reservation, made up of 29 mile-square sections in a checkerboard pattern, posed other challenges. We do traffic counts using our “climate action crew” interns. Seasonal tourism causes uneven usage, arterials affected differently. The region is marked by massive and visible renewable generation, but host cities get no direct carbon credit.
Our team now shifts to making the inventories actionable for each city and tribe. What are the big ticket items that will help reduce emissions? Which are the most cost-effective to implement, and for whom? We’ll quantify costs and benefits, and thus dollars per megaton of offset, helping each city/tribe to develop goals and priorities, policies and programs to stem emissions and meet climate responsibilities and commitments.
EcoMotion is in the business of the cost-effective greening of cities, corporations, and campuses. We help cities define their goals, and then define strategies to be creative, proactive, and to ride the sustainability wave. In this case, we’ll bring hundreds of best practices, dozens of policy suggestions and program designs, enthusiasm and collaboration to help our clients define their best paths forward. Working together, and ahead of impending regulation, we’re delivering their roadmaps for action.