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Climate Change

Climate Change in the District

The District is already experiencing the impacts of human-made climate change. Climate change refers to long-term changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other aspects of climate. These global changes have serious consequences for the District. In the past few years, the District has seen record-breaking extreme weather (like heat waves and snowstorms), higher tides caused by rising sea level, heavy rains and flooding, and warmer average temperatures and two to three times as many dangerously hot days. The District Government is approaching climate change from two sides: adaptation and mitigation.

Climate Adaptation

Adaptation means preparing District residents, neighborhoods, buildings and infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, increased precipitation, more dangerous storms and sea level rise. Learn more about how the District is preparing for the impacts of climate change.

Climate Mitigation

Mitigation refers to reducing emissions from the following greenhouse gases (GHGs) that intensify climate change—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

  • The District’s Clean Energy DC plan is the roadmap to achieve the Sustainable DC goal of reducing GHGs by 50% by 2032.
  • Progress on reducing emissions is measured by an annual inventory of the city’s GHGs. The District has cut citywide GHG emissions since 2006, but there is much work ahead to achieve our short- and long-term climate targets.
  • Carbon Free DC is the District’s strategy to become carbon neutral by 2050. Like balancing a checkbook, being carbon neutral means we cannot send more GHGs into the atmosphere than we remove, in any given year. Carbon Free DC’s pathway starts with energy efficiency – to use and waste less – then moving to clean, renewable energy sources. Carbon neutrality is an important goal because climate change is fueled by the total concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere. If we have more than zero net emissions, we are contributing to the climate crisis by adding to the cumulative total of GHGs.
  • Tackling existing building energy use is a key priority for the District, as more than 70% of citywide emissions come from the energy needed to operate our homes and buildings. The Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) Program was set forth in Title III of the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018. The BEPS was created to help reduce GHG emissions and energy consumption by 50% by 2032, through increased energy efficiency of existing buildings.

Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency

The District of Columbia Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency (DC-CCCR), established in 2016, provides an independent perspective on District’s actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Composed of 16 experts, the DC-CCCR reviews the District’s plans, policies, and programs and recommends priorities to City Council and the Mayor’s Office. The DC-CCCR is driven by equitable and meaningful solutions that will serve residents, protect critical infrastructure, and advance economies.