What Texas can learn from Dallas about fighting climate change

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Texas’ largest and bluest cities– Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas– are each taking steps to develop plans to fight climate change.

In Dallas, officials have been working on a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions and better prepare the city for climate change. Dallas has taken a community-centered approach to develop that plan, complete with a detailed survey and dozens of public meetings. 

The approach has revealed a lot about what Dallasites fear most about climate change (extreme weather) and how far they’re willing to go to control the ongoing climate crisis.

But before jumping into any of that, it’s worth understanding where emissions in Dallas come from. Emissions produced by Dallas are mostly the result of buildings and energy used by commercial, residential, and industrial sectors. Their emission output is responsible for about two-thirds of the city’s emissions. The rest of the emissions derive from on-road transportation and a tiny sliver is due to waste management.

When people from Dallas were asked about city issues relating to each of these– including transportation and housing– it revealed that many of the city’s issues are issues that fighting climate change could solve. In other words, climate change issues overlap significantly with city issues.

The best example was transportation. When surveyed about the most pressing concerns as they relate to transportation, most complained that driving is the only good option for getting around and that current transit service doesn’t meet their needs in terms of hours, costs, or routes.

Likewise, when asked about the most pressing concerns for buildings and energy, a majority said old buildings weren’t well insulated, electricity bills were too high, and that office buildings consumed too much energy. 

It goes without saying that some of the solutions to achieve a carbon-neutral city– adding more public rapid transit and powering buildings and industries off green energy– are solutions that would also fix many of the city’s general woes. 

Dallas is entering the final stages of developing its climate action plan. The plan is expected to launch in April of next year.

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