Climate change is a critical issue. It will likely impact every part of our planet and many aspects of our lives: the environment, availability of energy for our homes, vehicles and businesses, and finances. California leads the nation in climate change efforts and the AQMD will continue its vigorous role in shaping future policies and programs.
Larry Greene, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer
What is Climate Change? Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns, including the rise in the Earth’s temperatures due to heat-trapping or "greenhouse" gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. GHGs include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide among others. The Earth’s climate has always cycled, but the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that the global climate is changing at a rate unmatched in the past one thousand years and that this change is most likely due to human activity. See The Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate Change 101 and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for more information. For more information on current trends, see the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Data Center.
Impacts to our Region: Climate change is already having effects in the Southwest United Sates and California as well. Recent temperature increases and restricted water are key issues. See both Climate Change Impacts in the US (PDF) and the California Climate Change Portal. While the headlines tend to focus on large-scale climate change impacts, the Sacramento region can expect many negative impacts that affect our health, economy, environment, and quality of life. Higher temperatures will facilitate easier formation of summer ozone. This will increase asthma rates and demand for energy use for air conditioning. More precipitation will fall as rain and less as snowpack. Less snowpack will reduce water availability in summer. The Delta’s water level will rise, increasing costs to maintain levees and protect species. More drought will mean more large forest fires, impacting air quality, homes and businesses, and recreation.
California Leadership: The State of California has taken the lead in US efforts to reduce GHG emissions. In 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed landmark legislation, AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, into law. It establishes a comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of GHG. Governor Schwarzenegger created the California Climate Action Team to oversee the development of statewide climate change programs and policies and includes Cal-EPA, the Energy Commission, the Air Resources Board (ARB), and many others. More information.
Regional and Local Initiatives: The Sacramento regional and local organizations, too, are working to address climate change and to respond to the requirements of AB 32. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) is working to inform its 31 local government members about climate change issues. City and County governments as well as newly formed organizations are also preparing for the implications of the state’s mandates. More information.
California Air Pollution Control Association (CAPCOA): The AQMD is a member of CAPCOA, the organization of all of the 35 air districts in the state of California. CAPCOA representatives meet regularly and have actively been involved in discussions and advocacy about climate change. In January, 2008, CAPCOA published CEQA and Climate Change (PDF) Currently, CAPCOA is working on guidance on General Plans and GHG. In addition, CAPCOA representatives are actively working with CARB on issues related to the Scoping Plan.
AQMD Climate Protection Program and Progress: The AQMD began a formal program to address climate change in our daily work several years ago. Elements include GHG inventory, work practices, commute incentives, building retrofits and staff education. More information.