A new national ranking of metropolitan area carbon footprints released last week provides further evidence that Las Vegas is making strides to preserve the quality of life for current and future generations. According to the report, the Las Vegas metro area ranks 18th in per capita carbon emissions from transportation and residential energy use among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. The area ranked ninth for average resident emissions from highway transportation and 33rd for residential energy use (electricity and residential fuels). The rankings are from lowest to highest emissions, the lower the ranking the better.
The Brookings Institution report, Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America, ranks the carbon footprints of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on total metric tons of carbon emissions per capita in 2005. As the United States Congress begins to debate national climate change legislation, the report demonstrates the need for a strong federal-local partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The city of Las Vegas welcomes the release of the Brookings report as an opportunity to explore how local government can further reduce its carbon footprint, said Mayor Oscar B. Goodman. “With our sustainability initiative, Las Vegas is actively implementing and exploring ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from highway transportation and residential energy consumption,” Goodman said.
Through its sustainability initiative, the city of Las Vegas is developing innovative climate change programs and policies that serve as the laboratories for innovative approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Las Vegas has modernized its vehicle fleet with alternative fuels, and established zoning policies to promote more walkable communities such as in the Downtown Centennial Plan and the Kyle Canyon Development Agreement and Development Standards. The city has also recently launched its Urban Forestry initiative to lower the city’s heat index, reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On a national level, local governments have been at the forefront of the movement to combat climate change. Mayors from 850 cities, including Mayor Goodman, have signed the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement pledging to take actions in their communities to cut carbon emissions. The city of Las Vegas and more than 400 cities, towns and counties have joined ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and are conducting comprehensive emissions inventories, setting reduction targets and implementing Climate Action Plans.
The city of Las Vegas is conducting its own comprehensive emissions inventory as a member of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. This analysis includes a comprehensive evaluation of emissions associated with metropolitan communities that goes beyond the Brookings report. The city’s effort will use more detailed and localized data sources, including non-highway transportation and commercial buildings.
Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America underscores the critical need to involve local governments in the climate change solution. For example, more than 39 percent of U.S. carbon emissions are generated by energy use in residential and commercial buildings. Cities and counties are uniquely suited to reduce that pollution. Transportation is another area where city and county governments can have a significant impact.
The city of Las Vegas is working with Climate Communities and ICLEI to educate federal policymakers about the essential role of local governments in addressing climate change. Climate Communities is a national coalition of cities and counties that is seeking new federal resources to help localities reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ICLEI is a national organization that is providing direct assistance to more than 400 U.S. localities to help them develop and implement local climate action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The report is available online at http://www.brookings.edu .