The Earth's climate is changing, and these changes will have wide-ranging impacts on communities throughout the world -- and here in Sarasota. Although climate change is considered a global issue, many of the natural resource, public health and infrastructure impacts associated with climate change are being addressed on a local community level.
Through a variety of efforts, the City of Sarasota is working to plan for and mitigate the impacts of climate change on our community. The City's Sustainability Program, along with an Internal Climate Working Group (ICWG), a group of city departments committed to guiding the city's work to prepare for climate change, commissioned assistance from HDR to help us understand what we need to prepare for and how to integrate climate projections into city decisions. The City and HDR are currently working on a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan. A primary goal of this process is to improve city staff's comfort with climate science in order to better coordinate community efforts at hte nieghborhood and local business level in the future.
What The City Is Doing
Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan - The city is working with HDR to identify local climate projections, assess and prioritize the vulnerabilities to city infrastructure, and create adaptation strategies where needed. This strategic approach is the city's first step in climate resiliency and is meant to serve as a foundation for future community climate work. To-date the team has created a technical report which outlines climate projections for the City of Sarasota. Click on this link for a one-page summary of local climate projections that have been approved by City Commission in this planning process.
Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) - The City has completed a community GHGI for the years 2003, 2007, and 2015. The results illustrated a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions community-wide from 2005 to 2015. In 2015, the community of Sarasota generated a total of 665,662 metric tons CO2e. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by 140,600 passenger vehicles for one year.
Operational Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) - The City has completed an operational GHGI for the years 2003, 2007, and 2015. The final report is being currently being finalized but results show a similar trend in greenhouse gas reduction as in the community GHGI. In 2015, the government operations of Sarasota generated a total of 23,991 metric tons CO2e. This is the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 5,068 passenger vehicles driven for one year and 3.6% of the overall community-wide emissions.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal - The City is striving to meet a GHG reduction target of 35% both community-wide and within city operations by 2025, from a 2003 baseline.
Commitments - The City of Sarasota signed US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement 2007 and is exploring the possibility of updating this commitment through the Compact of Mayors. The Compact of Mayors represents 610 cities and established a common platform to capture the impact of cities' collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent public reporting of their efforts.
Collaboration & Outreach - The City of Sarasota is working closely with local governmental, non-profit, and academic organizations throughout the region to discuss climate, sea level rise, or adaptation issues. Additionally, the Sustainability program presents on the climate adaptation work or sustainability efforts often to neighborhood, business, or faith-based groups. If you would like to request a presentation or any other outreach please contact Stevie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-365-2200 xt 4202.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are humans really contributing to climate change? The links below take you directly to science-based websites which answer the most common questions around climate change.
National Climate Assessment FAQ - A team of more than 300 experts, guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, produce a national report which is extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel for the National Academy of Sciences.
What You Can Do
Get Perspective - calculate your carbon footprint - Half of the American personal footprint results from just four things: driving, electricity, natural gas and red meat. Calculating your own footprint will help you prioritize the major emission sources in your lifestyle and avoid wasting energy on things of little consequence. There are many carbon footprint calculators on the web, here's one: EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator.
Food Waste - eat more of the food you buy. It may seem simple but this one action in preventing food waste can often cut your footprint by up to a quarter!
Energy Reduction & Efficiency - take steps to ensure you're only using the amount of energy you really need and then make sure your home is as efficient as possible.
Low Carbon Food Choices - Eating more low carbon foods can both slash your footprint and improve your diet. When it comes to emission, foods vary enormously. Due to their feed requirements, methane production and processing, red meat and dairy products are typically very carbon intensive to. Even cutting out red meat or dairy one day a week can drastically impact our footprint.
Transportation - Walk, bike, or use public transportation and efficient cars as much as possible.
Purcahses - Choose quality over quantity when purchasing items. Avoid plastic packaging as much as possible. Spending money on local services instead of local goods can also impact your personal footprint.
(This information came from shrinkthatfootprint.com, check out their Emit This resource for other ideas.)