The second element of the declaration asks local governments to work closely with state, federal and other local governments in their regions to reduce GHG emissions to 80% below then-current levels by 2050. Regional action is needed because, much like traffic problems, the reduction of GHG emissions is a multi-jurisdictional issue. Reductions in regional GHG emissions will result in reductions within the county.
This element of the declaration envisions creation of a regional GHG emissions inventory and the development of a regional plan that includes short-, mid- and long-term GHG reduction targets. Recommended targets include stopping the growth of regional GHG emissions by 2010 and the achievement of a 10% reduction in emissions every five years thereafter through to 2050.
This second element was intended to engage the nation’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in developing both regional GHG emissions inventories and regional implementation plans. In 2007, when the Cool Counties Climate Stabilization Initiative was developed, regional action on GHG emissions had not yet been put in motion by COG or the region’s MPO, which is the Transportation Planning Board. This element would not begin to see any significant movement until 2009, when regional action began to take effect.
Actions and Results
Because the second element is premised on regional action, the following describes highlights of this regional activity:
2008: On November 12, 2008, the COG Board adopted the National Capital Region Climate Change Report and Recommendations. The report included GHG emissions reductions goals for the short-, mid- and long-term.
2009: On April 8, 2009, the COG Board created the Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC) to serve as the COG Board’s principal policy adviser on climate change, energy and other environmental issues. The CEEPC was tasked with developing a regional climate change strategy to meet the COG regional GHG emissions reduction goals.
2010: On January 28, 2010, COG members executed the Region Forward Compact, which included the region’s first official regional GHG emissions reduction targets:
- Short-term: Reduce emissions to 2005 levels by 2012
- Mid-term: Reduce emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020
- Long-term: Reduce emissions 80% below 2005 levels by 2050
The Compact’s mid- and long-term targets are the same as those established in the Cool Counties Declaration. The Compact’s short-term goal differs from Cool Counties in that COG’s short-term goal envisioned the region’s emissions leveling off in 2012, not 2010.
Fairfax County has met both the regional short-term goal and the Cool Counties goal of ending emissions growth by 2010. According to the results of its 2013 GHG emissions inventory for the period 2006-2010, discussed above, the county’s GHG emissions in 2010 were approximately 1% below that of its 2006 base year.
2012: On November 12, 2008, CEEPC adopted a regional strategy – the 2013-2016 CEEPC Action Plan to help guide regional GHG emission reduction efforts.
- Regional GHG Inventory: COG’s regional GHG report, released April 22, 2016, presents GHG inventory results for the Metropolitan Washington region. Results show the region was able to slightly exceed the 2012 goal, keeping emissions below 2005 baseline levels. The COG inventory is intended to measure GHG emissions as compared to short-, mid-, and long-term goals.
In addition to creating a GHG inventory for the region, COG also has created an inventory for each of its member jurisdictions. COG’s fact sheet for Fairfax County includes overall and per-capital emissions changes in Fairfax County from 2005 to 2012, a brief description of the source of the majority of emissions, a description of the emissions activities included in the inventory, and the methodology used to calculate emissions. The COG results show that the county exceeded the 2012 COG goal as in this fact sheet.
- Regional Action Plan to Achieve GHG Emissions Goals: On January 31, 2016, COG released its Final Technical Report on a multi-sector approach to reducing GHG emissions in the metropolitan Washington region. This report provides context for GHG emissions in the metropolitan Washington region and potential GHG reductions that might be achieved through regional policy actions. The report describes the process used to identify feasible strategies, the methods used for analysis, and the results of the multisector regional strategy analysis.
- Upon presentation of the Final Technical Report of potential GHG reduction strategies, the COG Board directed staff to review the strategies with a Policy Task Force of elected officials representing COGs relevant policy committees, technical staff from the COG member jurisdictions and state and regional agencies to gauge the feasibility and level of implementation of the potential GHG reduction strategies. On January 11, 2017, the COG Board adopted the Multi Sector Working Group's Policy Task Force recommendations through Board Resolution R68-2016.