A Statement from the Mayor
On Climate Change:
“Dallas is a healthy, safe and economically vibrant city. But to be a truly resilient city, Dallas must prepare for the effects of climate change. I want Dallas to continue to be a leader in efforts to reduce emissions and improve our air quality. Through our collective efforts and a focus on common-sense, data-driven solutions, we can ensure that our great city continues to thrive in the decades to come.”
– Mayor Eric Johnson
What Are the Risks?
The average annual temperature will increase in Dallas, especially if we do not begin to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In climate models, this is referred to as the “high emissions scenario”. Temperatures during the summer are frequently over 100°F, and by the middle of this century, we can expect about 30-60 MORE days over 100°F under the high emissions scenario. These heat waves will be more frequent, hotter, and longer than the ones we have experienced historically. Not only does this pose a health threat by heat stroke and other heat-related illness, but it also creates stagnant air conditions, resulting in poor air quality. Extreme heat also increases stress on the energy supply, and combined with cold, wet winters, will also shorten the lifespan of our roads.
Heat waves will contribute to droughts by drying out the soil and evaporating water from our reservoirs. Climate models also predict a decrease in overall annual precipitation, and an increase in the frequency, intensity, and length of severe droughts. This will strain the water supply for the region, as well as degrade the water quality of our lakes and rivers, since pollutants will become more concentrated.
It may be counter-intuitive, but severe flooding events will also become more frequent. Over the next few decades, seasonal swings in weather will be fairly extreme, with colder, wetter winters and hotter, dryer summers. It doesn’t even out, though. Most of the rainfall will occur during the spring in heavy precipitation events, and droughts will still be a problem the rest of the year.
More carbon dioxide in the air results in increased pollen production in some plants, like ragweed. This, combined with a longer growing season thanks to warmer fall and winter temperatures, can result in worsening allergies for some people. It may also trigger higher asthma and respiratory illness rates. Changing climate also results in increased risk from vector-borne illnesses (diseases that use another animal or insect as a host for part of their life cycle). We all know about the West Nile Virus, but others like the Chikungunya Virus and Chagas Disease could move into new territory as the range of the host organism expands or changes.
What is the City Doing?
In January 2019, the Dallas City Council approved the Dallas Climate Resolution that directed staff to develop an effective, actionable climate plan. Per this resolution, the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) is to build upon existing planning efforts, to benchmark against other U.S. city climate planning efforts, be generally consistent with national and international climate planning protocols, include a robust community engagement effort, and outline a series of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help the community adapt to a climatically different future, and comprehensively enhance environmental quality across Dallas.
Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan (CECAP)
The Dallas Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan (CECAP) was unanimously approved on May 27, 2020 and is a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the activities that the City will undertake to improve quality of life, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to prepare for the impacts of climate change, and to create a healthier and more prosperous community. It builds upon our understanding of future impacts from climate change, other environmental challenges facing Dallas, and the data from the 2015 City of Dallas greenhouse gas inventory. The CECAP leverages existing efforts by the City and builds upon an active public outreach and engagement effort to solicit input from businesses, community organizations, residents, and stakeholders, to create an effective and equitable Dallas plan that everyone can implement. Follow the CECAP Implementation progress here.
is not just about emissions reductions. The CECAP is about improving overall public health, resilience, and quality of life in Dallas.
What Can You Do?
Exciting new opportunities to get involved with the CECAP implementation process and other environmental initiatives will be coming soon. In the meantime, view the CECAP dashboard and other resources, contact us to schedule a meeting or presentation, and check out our upcoming events!