How Santa Fe Is Contributing to Climate Change – And What We Can Do About It (Part 1)

Greenhouse Effect


The key to preventing the worst scenario of projected climate impacts is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released into our atmosphere. Reducing emissions is a global effort, and every community can make a difference – including Santa Fe!  

 What are GHGs? 

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are essential to life on Earth. They provide a "blanket" in our atmosphere, trapping heat and regulating the Earth's temperature. However, when we burn fossil fuels to power our homes, businesses, and vehicles, we increase the level of GHGs in the atmosphere, creating a much thicker "blanket" that disrupts the Earth's climate. The result is more intense droughts, summer floods, and an increase in the severity and frequency of wildfires, which we are already experiencing in Santa Fe. 


What is a GHG emissions inventory? 

To reduce emissions, we first need to know where they are coming from. Governments, companies, academic institutions, and other organizations conduct inventories of greenhouse gas emissions to understand what activities are producing emissions and where (e.g., tons of emissions produced by gas-powered vehicles within city limits every year). A GHG inventory measures the total amount of emissions produced and sorts them into sectors, such as buildings, transportation, and waste. The inventory results can then be used to determine the strategies and actions that will result in reducing emissions, like the actions in the Sustainable Santa Fe 25-Year Plan. 



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 What does this mean for Santa Fe? 

In 2022, the City of Santa Fe conducted a new greenhouse gas inventory for the entire community. The largest source of community emissions is transportation at 34%, followed by residential energy at 31% and commercial energy at 27%.  

To reduce these emissions and combat climate change, the City of Santa Fe has set an ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. Aggressively reducing emission will be done through a variety of key strategies, such as using more renewable energy to power our buildings, reducing the amount of waste that we produce, and transitioning from gas-powered vehicles to electric ones. 

The City has already made sizeable progress in the past few years. In 2021, for example, transportation emissions contributed 347,294 MTCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)  down from 522,291 MTCO2e in 2015. As Santa Fe continues to take action across the community, we can expect to see more and more emissions reductions every year. Part 2 of this blog post will dive into these actions – stay tuned! 

 Be Part of the Solution 

All of us impact GHG emissions. You can help Santa Fe reach its 2040 goal of carbon neutrality by taking action in your own life. Reduce your energy use at home, take a trip on the bus, and make the choice to recycle right. Check out the How You Can Help page on our Sustainability Dashboard to discover things you can do today to make a difference!