The Science of Climate Change
In 2007, the world's foremost authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), declared that the "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level" and that "human influence is very likely the leading cause of global warming."
Climate Mitigation (the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions)
The City of Albany is taking the following actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in municipal government operations and the city at large:
Many of the components of Albany's Comprehensive Plan, Albany2030, are designed with energy and sustainability in mind. Initiatives such as building a multimodal transportation center, creating livable, vibrant neighborhoods, revitalizing Albany's downtown and the waterfront all have potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a more sustainable Albany.
- Compiling a greenhouse gas inventory for the city which will show energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from municipal government, transportation and residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
- Engaging in a performance contract with an energy services company to improve the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and facilities
- Setting a target for reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions
- Developing a climate action and adaptation plan.
According to the draft ClimAID report released by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) in 2010, Albany and the upstate New York region are predicted to be impacted by climate change through:
The impact to human health, infrastructure and the economy in the region are significant. With higher temperatures, residents would experience higher cooling costs and increased risks of heat stroke, especially for the elderly people and the poor. Higher temperatures mean worse air quality which would lead to increases in asthma and allergies. Warmer temperatures also encourage mosquitoes and bacteria, leading to higher incidences of vector borne diseases. Changes to precipitation are likely to result in more snowfall in winter and droughts in summer. More of the precipitation will come as heavy downpours, which could lead to more flooding, sewer overflows, power outages, and damages to property and infrastructure.
- Increased average temperatures
- Increased average annual precipitation
- Increase in the frequency and severity of storms
As the regionís climate changes, local ecosystems will also be impacted. Spruce, fir, hemlock and maples would die off and migrate to northern climes. Pests previously killed by cold winters would proliferate and destroy urban street trees as well as large swathes of forest. Fisheries and wildlife would die or migrate to colder climes. Non native species would replace native species. These impacts would change the economy and character of the region.
Due to the significant amount of GHGs already in the atmosphere, some level of change is in inevitable, despite efforts to reduce emissions. Therefore, it is important for the city and the region to prepare for climate change and enhance resiliency to a wide range of impacts. Albany's 2030 plan will incorporate a range of adaptation measures for the City to prioritize for implementation. Following the release of New York State's ClimAID Report on climate impacts to the region, we will be conducting a Climate Vulnerability Assessment to study the risk and exposure of Albany's populations to climate change. The results of this assessment will help us develop a Climate Adaptation Plan which will address how the city will respond to climate related problems such as increased flooding, heat, reduced air quality, vector borne diseases, and ecosystem changes.
New York Climate Smart Communities Program
New York State Climate Action Council
Sea Level Rise Task Force Report (Adobe PDF, 3.4MB)
ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability
EPAís climate change website
EPA Household Emissions Calculator
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change