Climate change is a critical issue. It’ll likely impact every part of the planet and many aspects of our lives: the environment, availability of energy for homes, vehicles and businesses, and finances. California leads the nation in climate change efforts and the SacMetro AQMD will continue its vigorous role in shaping future policies and programs. — Larry Greene, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer, Retired
Climate change is a critical issue. It’ll likely impact every part of the planet and many aspects of our lives: the environment, availability of energy for homes, vehicles and businesses, and finances. California leads the nation in climate change efforts and the SacMetro AQMD will continue its vigorous role in shaping future policies and programs.
— Larry Greene, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer, Retired
Climate change is one of the most important challenges we face today. Emissions of greenhouse gases – chiefly the result of burning fossil fuels – are trapping dangerous amounts of heat in the atmosphere and warming the world. This means not only hotter temperature but profound shifts in the oceans and weather systems that could have critical consequences for the Earth and society.
The Earth’s climate is a finely tuned system, and disrupting this balance even by a few degrees has multiple negative consequences. Rising seas, intense storms, and floods can damage roads and buildings and endanger lives. Warming temperatures, drought, and shifting seasons will decrease agricultural yields for everything from coffee and wheat to wine grapes and citrus. The combination of heat and drought has dramatically worsened wildfires here in California, while shrinking snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada threaten winter recreation and the state’s long-term water supply. All of these changes pose threats for the economy, public health, and the unique biodiversity and ecosystems upon which California’s prosperity is built.
To avoid the most dangerous climate change impacts, scientists say we need to limit global warming to at most 2 degrees Celsius above average temperature levels in the mid-19th century (known as pre-industrial levels, before the widespread burning of fossil fuels). Even better would be limiting it to 1.5 degrees, which would help save small islands like the Maldives from sea-level rise. We’re already 1 degree Celsius over the pre-industrial average, however. That means we need to urgently transition electricity and transportation systems to use zero-carbon emissions fuel sources such as wind, solar, and renewable fuels.
Here in Sacramento, the SacMetro AQMD and its partners are working to address climate change. There are many strategies and solutions in all aspects of life. At the local government level, Sacramento County, the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, and Citrus Heights have all implemented climate action plans to help their communities reduce their contribution to climate change.
California is leading the U.S. in addressing climate change. The state has established goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, which is aligned with leading scientific recommendations. California is making progress to its targets through a diverse range of programs and legislation, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, Sustainable Community Strategies, Cap and Trade, and more. These programs are helping the state to reduce its carbon footprint while building the innovative clean technology economy that will help California thrive in the future.
State agencies are also working to prepare California for the impacts of climate change. By insuring that we design, build, and repair communities and infrastructure in anticipation of future conditions, we can avoid disaster damage and recovery costs, protect assets and resources, and keep communities safe.
Internationally, countries are working together through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as many other fora and one-on-one partnerships. The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 December, is the first universal, legally binding climate deal that sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C.
On an individual level, we can choose renewable, carbon-free electricity and alternative modes of transportation such as biking, public transportation, and hybrid cars. We can retrofit homes and offices so they become more energy efficient. We can also conserve water, replace lawns with a native plants garden, and take care of the trees – Sacramento is the City of Trees, after all.