GHG Emissions

Through the completion of a local emissions study, or greenhouse gas inventory, the City of Atlanta has determined emissions levels for the community as a whole and for City of Atlanta’s government operations. Community-wide emissions represent the sum total of emissions produced within the City of Atlanta limits as well as emissions resulting from electricity use within the jurisdiction, even if said electricity is generated elsewhere. In this way, the community-wide figures represent all emissions for which the community is responsible.

2013 GHG Emissions City of Atlanta Community-Wide

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Emissions from the City of Atlanta are embedded within the community-wide totals. For example, emissions from government buildings are included in the commercial sector, and emissions from the City of Atlanta fleet vehicles are included in the transportation figure above. Government operations are therefore a subset of total community emissions.

Government emissions include all sources for which the local government exercises direct operational control, including wastewater services, landfills within the city limits (now closed to the public but still sources of GHG emissions), and streetlights.

2013 GHG Emissions City of Atlanta Operations

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The City of Atlanta has also completed an emissions forecast based on projections of current data and expected future trends using the 2013 Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The emissions forecast is a “Business As Usual” forecast, a scenario estimating future emissions levels, if no further local actions are taken beyond utility plans. The forecast indicates that if we do not take action, GHG emissions will continue to increase regardless of the reductions in emissions by the utility company -Georgia Power. The main factors considered for the expected increase in emission are the increase in population and a consequent increase in the commercial sector.

Projected Growth in GHG Emissions

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For complete information regarding the 2013 citywide emissions inventory, including methodology and supporting data, please reference to City of Atlanta Emissions Inventory Report located at:

http://p2catl.com/publications/2013-greenhouse-gase-ghg-inventory/

City of Atlanta’s GHG Reduction Target

The City of Atlanta has set targets to reduce its emissions to 20 percent below 2009 levels by 2020, and 40 percent below 2009 levels by 2030. The combinations of measures that the City of Atlanta has already implemented or has currently planned, which are presented through this Climate Action Plan, are designed to achieve the 2020 targets. The total estimated increase or decrease in emissions by sectors relies on the best information currently available pertaining to population forecasts, future changes to building codes, and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, among other information.

Emissions Reduction Targets

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The City of Atlanta’s targets are consistent with those suggested by national and international agencies, or proposed in federal legislation. Most local governments have a priority target of 15-25% below 2005 levels by 2020. Targets proposed via federal legislation have sought reductions of 17-20% below 2005 levels by 2020. Almost all sources recommend a reduction of 80% by 2050. The City of Atlanta anticipates being ahead of these short-term recommendations as well as being in line with middle-term recommendations via this Climate Action Plan.

City of Atlanta’s Climate Action Plan

In the next chapter we will identify the focus areas within the City of Atlanta Climate Action Plan, the specific strategies within each focus area, and the contributions of each focus area toward the GHG reduction goal. Each focus area has a dedicated section within this document where specific actions (both new and those already employed) are described.

While the City of Atlanta local government cannot address climate change by itself, government policies and practices can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a range of sources and help prepare the city for the anticipated impacts of climate change. In addition, the City of Atlanta will assist residents and businesses in their endeavors to reduce emissions through programs explained in this plan. By working together, the City of Atlanta will not only do its part toward achieving a stable climate, we will reap the benefits of healthier air, lower costs for utilities and services, improved transportation and accessibility, generate a more vibrant local economy, and many other positive side effects of reducing our carbon footprint.

The Impact on Emissions

The figure below displays GHG emissions from 2009 to 2020 and the estimated impact the Climate Action Plan will have on reducing these emissions over time. The reductions are expressed in terms of the estimated impact of each focus area. Taken together, the elements of the Climate Action Plan are capable of reaching City of Atlanta’s adopted reduction target. Savings are projected to result in total reductions of 2.06 Million mTCO2e by 2020.

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Questions? e-mail Jairo H Garcia, Sustainability Management Analyst at jhgarcia@AtlantaGa.Gov