Implementing Climate Change Commitments

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Over 1000 U.S. local governments have committed to addressing climate change by reducing their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, and a small number of local governments are also preparing for the impacts of climate change. Through the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and the Cities for Climate Protection ® program, mayors and city councils from all political parties and in all 50 states have made commitments to address global climate change in an effort to improve quality of life for citizens, as well as curb pollution at the local level. These high level commitments by elected officials are just beginning to influence engineering and operations decisions by utility managers, including planners, environmental officials, and utility managers and this trend will only continue to rise.

While more and more cities make commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the pressure on water and wastewater utilities is mounting, as these facilities are often the largest emitters of GHG emissions within a community—commonly representing 10–20 percent of total GHG emissions. Aggressive targets of up to 30 percent GHG emissions reduction in the short term for community-wide emissions reductions could have serious financial and operational impacts to utilities. However, few of these aggressive targets have been preceded by feasibility analysis to identify opportunities and challenges; therefore, the concern among utilities regarding the reduction targets is high.

This poster will explore the implication of these climate change commitments for water and wastewater utilities, and present real scenarios for implementation from ongoing projects and programs. The highlighted projects will demonstrate measurable approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change, present decision making processes that have aided in these projects, and describe the multi-benefit outcomes resulting from implementation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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