Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan
Our Dallas vision is:
“To be a leader in reducing emissions and addressing climate and environmental risk with effective, equitable, and common-sense solutions.”
Summary of Challenges and Approach
Dallas residents are familiar with Texas’ extreme weather - from flooding and storms, to heatwaves and drought. Climate change is projected to exacerbate the already unstable conditions. By 2050, Dallas is likely to experience a 5° F increase in mean temperature during summer months, particularly if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Climate models also predict a decrease in overall annual precipitation, and an increase in the frequency, intensity, and length of severe droughts. Over the next few decades, seasonal swings in weather will be extreme, with colder, wetter winters and hotter, dryer summers.
Climate change will impact every part of day to day life in Dallas. Vulnerable populations are most at risk to the impacts of climate change due to existing social, economic and environmental challenges. These communities are predominantly located in the southern and western sectors of Dallas. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates that ‘severe weather events can have a substantial human and economic cost’ and are likely to have ‘a negative impact on the region’s longer-term business prospects and migration trends’. Climate change will also impact the sensitive ecosystem balance that ecosystems, balancing food, water and habitat for plant, animal and human life.
Climate change will affect everyone, but not everyone will be affected equally– the effects of climate change will disproportionately impact communities with the least means to adapt, and who have been burdened with negative environmental impact, due to historic institutionalized discriminatory practices. The City recognizes environmental injustices of the past, elevates solutions to address them, placing equity at the center of this effort towards a more resilient future.
The City of Dallas is committed to meeting the international emission reduction targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2016 and the goal to keep warming globally at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. In 2017, Mayor Rawlings signed on to the Mayors National Climate Agreement in support of the Paris Agreement. In 2019, Mayor Johnson re-affirmed the City’s ongoing commitment to protecting the community from the impacts of climate change and taking measures to reduce GHG emissions.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
The City prepared a 2015 communitywide GHG inventory to be used as the base year for emissions forecasting in the CECAP. The inventory provides a snapshot of the amount and sources of GHG emissions within the community and serves as a reference point to help determine appropriate emissions reduction targets and indicate the types of measures to pursue in order to make meaningful progress toward those targets.
The 2015 inventory was prepared according to the Global Protocol for Community Scale GHG Inventories (GPC), an internationally accepted protocol developed by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), the World Bank, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), and World Resources Institute (WRI). The inventory was prepared using a calculation-based methodology, which estimates emissions using a combination of activity data (measurements of energy use or other GHG-generating processes, such as fuel consumption by fuel type or vehicle miles traveled) and emissions factors (emissions per unit of activity data, such as emissions per kilowatt of electricity, or per mile driven). The results are expressed in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT CO2e), which allows emissions of different greenhouse gases to be compared as a single unit.
Dallas’ 2015 emissions inventory totals 19,529,600 MT CO2e/year, which is approximately 15 MT CO2e per person per year. Buildings and Energy form is the largest contributor of GHG emissions in the city (64%), with transportation contributing most of the remainder (35%). Stationary energy sources refer to electricity and other combustible fuels utilized in buildings and the GHG emissions. The transportation and energy sectors account for approximately 99% of total emissions, meaning that local emissions reduction efforts will need to focus on these two sectors. The waste sector (including wastewater) is responsible for the remaining <1% of emissions.
Achieving our targets
Greenhouse gas reduction estimates based on CECAP actions
Consistent with other Texas cities, the City selected targets of reducing GHG emissions by 43 percent by the year 2030, and 100 percent by the Year 2050, consistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The CECAP proposes over 90 actions across eight sectors, of which 42 are aimed at primarily reducing GHG emissions. In order to meet the CECAP’s GHG reduction targets, ambitious actions have been proposed to address emissions from these two sectors.
The GHG reduction estimation for the suite of actions proposed in this plan was modeled using the CURB tool, which estimates GHG reductions based on assumptions related to the deployment of technological interventions (e.g., switching from incandescent bulbs to LEDs, transitioning from gas-powered passenger vehicles to electric vehicles). For estimation purposes, actions that contribute to the same technological change and objective were bundled together and evaluated for GHG reduction potential.
This modelling was based on fairly conservative assumptions about the fuel makeup of the electrical grid (based on ERCOT projections), which is currently primarily supported by natural gas and coal-fired power plants. Because of this, implemented actions within this CECAP are anticipated achieve reductions of GHG emissions by 18 percent in 2030 and 65 percent by 2050 respectively. An adaptive management approach to implementation is recommended, to allow adjustment of both the model, and the actions as necessary to continue towards this important end-goal.
Community Outreach and Engagement
The CECAP was developed based upon a robust community outreach and engagement effort, including two rounds of formal community meetings around the City, over 180 individual meetings with community groups per request, two surveys, a social media kit to allow social media, and a website developed to support public information and transparency concerning this effort. Staff met one-on-one with over 6,000 people and attained over 9,000 individual comments and suggestions for the plan. More importantly, this input was received from every single zip code in Dallas.
Additionally, two stakeholders groups were also convened to advise the City on outreach, vision, actions, goals, and actions to be input into the plan. Community members from public agencies, education, business, and social and environmental advocacy groups were convened as a Stakeholder Advisory Group. A separate Environmental Planning Task Force was convened of City staff from over 20 departments with a stake in implementing the actions proposed in this plan.
The Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan
The focus areas, goals, objectives, and actions included in this plan are based on two formal rounds of community input, numerous informal meetings at community request, City staff and stakeholder input, relevant best practices from peer and aspirational cities, and other international standards. In order to develop actions for the CECAP, we looked to understand both disadvantages (exposure to harm) and advantages (access to opportunity) of the action. For each action, equity considerations have been evaluated and are specified in the sections that follow.
The Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) is a comprehensive roadmap that outlines specific activities that the City plans to undertake to improve quality of life for all residents, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to prepare for the impacts of climate change, and to create a healthier and more prosperous community. The plan proposes over 90 actions across eight sectors. The suite of actions in the plan have been carefully selected to include mitigation, adaptation and environmental equity activities to start Dallas on a good path towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Actions were evaluated on their potential to deliver a range of co-benefits, including social equity, economic, health, mitigation, environmental quality and adaptation. Measurable targets were identified for all goals and objectives.
A table summarizing these goals, objectives and targets follows this page. As shown, the goals are ambitious, but actionable, and with defined metrics for success. Fore each objective, specific actions are defined.
This Draft CECAP Plan is bold, fits the Dallas community, and provides an actionable, cost-effective and equitable approach towards reducing emissions, adapting to a changing climate, and enhancing the quality of life for all Dallas residents and businesses. The approach outlined herein is anticipated to provide a good foundation for planning and actions toward a better future in Dallas.
It will be important to work with the City of Dallas Environmental and Sustainability Committee, the affiliated City Departments, and stakeholders towards a better future.