Helping Sierra Communities Adapt to Climate Change
Over the past 3 years Sierra Business Council has been working with PG&E to engage local governments to be proactive in understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change at the local level. One way this has been achieved is by bringing statewide resources to our rural jurisdictions, which would otherwise not have access to this statewide funding for energy efficiency upgrades. Through conducting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories for Sierra Nevada communities, we have already provided quality data to the leadership of 20 cities and counties. This data can now be used to make smart energy and cost-saving decisions.
Our work, however, is just getting started: There are currently more than 200 jurisdictions in the state that have either adopted a Climate Action Plan or are in the process of doing so. Yet fewer than 15 of these jurisdictions are in the Sierra Nevada. To address this, we are now beginning a new phase of this work to help bring more Sierra communities up to speed. In addition to conducting GHG inventories, we are also helping local governments develop energy planning documents. These planning documents use the data from the GHG inventories to help inform decisions on how best to reduce energy use and its associated cost.
We think that climate planning is important for our Sierra Nevada communities, and has many benefits. The economic value of this work seems relatively apparent: a reduction in electricity usage lowers your utility bills. However, there are many other benefits to reducing energy use that may not be as apparent.
Some of the benefits of reducing energy use and its resulting GHG emissions can be:
- reducing particulate matter, ozone and other air pollutants;
- promoting alternative transportation to ensure the health of our communities;
- saving money via reduced energy use that can be invested elsewhere in projects to benefit the community;
- and much more.
We have been learning as we go and have occasionally needed to adjust or update where we have erred in the past. However, what has evolved through the process is a team of expert staff dedicated to helping our local governments address climate change cost effectively and at a local level. We are encouraged by the participation of our local governments in this work, and plan to continue bringing these valuable resources to the region.
Diagram courtesy of: http://global-warming-geography.wikispaces.com