In order to develop a robust, comprehensive sustainability plan that is a roadmap to the envisioned future, it is essential to assess greenhouse gas emissions and understand the impacts of a changing climate on San Antonio’s people and environment. Changing climate conditions are relevant to city planning in that they will affect the way the city plans for changes in temperatures (planning for cooling water use or designing infrastructure to reduce the impacts of flooding); and increases in other extreme weather events (enhancing emergency management and preparedness efforts).
A key strategy to address our changing climate is to improve San Antonio’s resilience. Resilience of a city is measured as the capacity for individuals, neighborhoods, and whole systems to not only survive but thrive despite disruptions and stresses. These stresses can be extreme weather events such as flooding, extreme heat, and unexpected economic downturns or other social disruptions. Knowing where vulnerabilities exist /heating, ensuring public safety, and protecting public health); changes in precipitation (preparing for droughts, planning for municipal and identifying ways to adapt to predicted changes is essential to enhancing resilience.
Through the sustainability planning process, a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a climate trends and projections analysis, and a climate change vulnerability assessment were completed to better understand the current and potential future impacts and opportunities associated with greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of a changing climate.
Why is it important to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
As greenhouse gas emissions from human activities increase, they build up in the atmosphere and warm the climate, leading to many local and global impacts—in the atmosphere, on land, and in the oceans. These changes have both positive and negative effects on people, society, and the environment. Because many of the major greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of years after being released, their warming effects on the climate persist over a long time and can therefore affect both present and future generations.
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory assessed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated from both the community and the government operations for the calendar year 2014. The results of this assessment indicate the best opportunities to reduce emissions within the community are within buildings (homes and offices) and transportation.
A Climate Trends and Projections Analysis was completed for San Antonio by world renowned climate scientist, Texas Tech professor, and Texas native, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. The report provided by Dr. Hayhoe and her team highlighted what scientists know about why climate is changing, and what this means for the future. They analyzed observed trends in San Antonio and compare them with those seen across Texas and the South Central region. Finally, they summarized qualitative projected future changes across the South Central region. The final Climate Trends and Projections Report can be found in the Appendix section of this Plan.
The Climate Vulnerability Assessment was developed by bringing together the best available science with a multi‐departmental, multi‐organizational team of experts from across the city to identify key concerns and evaluate the potential vulnerability of assets, resources, and segments of the community. A focus of this assessment was to identify what current and future changing climate conditions and extreme weather events mean to San Antonio. By combining the best available science with the knowledge and expertise of the people who work on these issues locally, it is possible to gain real insight into how the community could be affected by future events. Results of this work include: relative climate and weather related vulnerability rankings for Key Areas of Concern, detailed descriptions of those rankings; and a list of strategies that could be used to address these vulnerabilities.
Community resilience refers to the ability of people, the places they live, and the assets and infrastructure they rely on to withstand and quickly recover from shocks and stressors. On April 10, 2017, nearly 70 community leaders from 43 organizations and 12 city departments gathered at the San Antonio Food Bank for a Community Resilience Dialogue. Participants engaged in a series of discussions about how to build resilience in San Antonio. This Resilience Dialogue was part of a larger effort to implement features of the recently adopted set of SA Tomorrow plans related to sustainability, multimodal transportation, and comprehensive development. Participants represented various local organizations, such as military facilities, educational institutions, cultural and civil justice groups, environmental groups, neighborhood organizations, a diverse set of city departments, and other sectors important to the development of the region. The Dialogue set the stage for strengthening collaborations among a growing network of people and organizations who can help build the resilience of the community.