Climate Change in Santa Fe
The Greenhouse Effect
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, heat waves, and an increase in the severity and frequency of wildfires, which we are already experiencing. Since 1970, the average summer temperature in New Mexico has increased by 3.3°F (Climate Central). Climate projections show that our future will be hotter and drier.
The top 2,000 climate scientists in the world have said our window for action is closing.
Climate Change in Santa Fe
What Does "Carbon Neutral" Mean?
The City of Santa Fe has adopted a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040. Put simply, carbon neutrality means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible or offsetting emissions through direct carbon sequestration through improved green spaces in the city or funding sequestration projects outside the city. The City of Santa Fe plans to reduce emissions in a variety of ways, 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.
Greenhouse gas emissions are partially driven by a city’s economic activity. When Santa Fe earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2020, the City was recognized for being a low carbon economy. Because of smart decisions from business owners, residents, and visitors, we’ve been able to grow our economy while preventing emissions from increasing – a positive trend to continue on our journey to zero emissions.
Greenhouse Gas Inventories
This dashboard includes data from both Community GHG Inventories and Municipal GHG Inventories. Community Inventories are city-wide and include all people, vehicles, and buildings. Municipal Inventories are specific to city government buildings and functions. The City's most recent inventory is a Community Inventory and used v. 1.2 of the U.S. Community Protocol, a national standard for local governments.
In the report, check out the Letter from the Mayor, showing how the City of Santa Fe is leading by example. Other topics include grid electricity mix, ICLEI Climate mitigation milestones, inventory methodology, inventory results, and next steps. Based on the report, the areas that have the greatest potential for emissions reduction include on-road transportation, community electricity use, community stationary fuels use, and solid waste.
Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Our actions today have a very real impact on future generations. To drastically reduce GHGs in Santa Fe, we need to rethink how we generate electricity, build buildings, and get around. Our latest GHG emissions inventory shows that we're heading in the right direction. Between 2015 and 2021, we decreased our GHG emissions by 15%! And, we were able to accomplish that despite an increase in our population. This is a major accomplishment that reflects the decisions we're all making to use clean energy, choose sustainable modes of transportation, and more.
Source: City of Santa Fe, Community GHG Emissions Inventories, 2015 and 2021.
Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory
Leading by Example
In 2018, the City of Santa Fe conducted a greenhouse gas inventory of its own operations. Electricity used for water and wastewater operations accounts for just over half of the City’s emissions (50.4%), followed by electricity and natural gas use in municipal buildings and facilities (23.5%). Of the electricity used for water and wastewater operations, water accounts for 86% as a result of the energy associated with the Buckman Diversion Station which is a main source of water for Santa Feans.
To reduce its emissions, the City of Santa Fe is currently adding 2.75 megawatts of renewable energy to its portfolio and conducting energy efficiency improvements at its facilities. In total, the project is estimated to save more than $750,000 per year in utility costs, with approximately $500,000 per year of the savings resulting from solar. The City is also transitioning its non-emergency administrative fleet to electric vehicles.
Source: City of Santa Fe, Municipal GHG Inventory, 2018.
Getting to Carbon Neutral
What does it look like to reach carbon neutrality by 2040? Based on science-based targets set by ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, we've modeled a projected pathway to reaching a city-wide emissions goal of 387,392 (MTC02e). In the graph below, each column represents a scenario between now and 2030 based on 3.8% population growth. The Baseline Scenario emissions were calculated in 2021. The Business As-Usual Scenario models modest reductions in emissions based on current trends, but not enough change to meet the City's goal.
Meeting the target will require us to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and adopt new technologies for reducing emissions as they become available. The High-Impact Scenario is achieved through grid decarbonization (80% reduction in carbon intensity), aggressive reduction in VMT (-10%), increase of electric vehicles on the road (30% of VMT), electrification of all new buildings, and increased building efficiency through greener building codes.
Source: City of Santa Fe, Community GHG Inventory, 2021; ICLEI, "2021 Inventory of Community-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions" Report