Thursday, November 13, 2008

COG Strives to Make the Region a Little Cooler

Greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change will increase 43% by 2050 in the Washington region if we don’t make changes now. This is according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ recent National Capital Region Climate Change Report. As one of the first multi-state initiatives, COG adopted stringent goals to return to 2005 emissions levels by 2012 and to reach a reduction of 80% below the 2005 levels by 2050.

As chair of the Climate Change Steering Committee, which produced the report, I applaud the region’s commitment to combat the effects of climate change such as higher temperatures, flooding and related health problems. Although COG has limited power of enforcement, local governments are taking the plan seriously. In fact, Montgomery and Fairfax Counties already basically have signed on, and we expect more participation in the future.

Because energy consumption (like heating, lighting and electronics) accounts for about 2/3 of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions, we as individuals can have our cake and eat it too. Fixes (like choosing Energy Star appliances, changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs and reducing use) can save businesses and home owners money in the long run. And, in Montgomery County, we offer rewards for purchasing clean energy and property tax credits for installing energy efficiency devices.

Governments must do their part too, especially when it comes to the 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation. Suburbs are growing at the fastest rate in the region (projected 47% growth by 2030). That means potentially longer distances to work and family activities. With our choices, such as investments in transit, stricter fuel efficiency standards and encouragement of clean technology, we can look forward not just to a greener environment but to a greener economy too.

Look at the Washington Post article or the entire report, and let me know if you or your business is doing something innovative to help the region reach its climate change goals.