Greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere absorb radiant energy from the sun causing the atmosphere to warm and making it suitable for life. Human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, add more greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane to the atmosphere. This enhances the greenhouse effect, trapping more heat and causing global temperatures to rise.
Beginning with the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, human civilization has increasingly emitted CO2 and other GHGs into the atmosphere. Current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by 40 percent from historic levels, corresponding to rising global temperatures. Since 1880, the global annual average temperature has increased by 1.8 degrees F, according to data from the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C.
Consensus from the world's leading climate scientists estimate that temperatures will increase between 6.7 and 8.4 degrees F by the end of the century. GHG emissions increase and changes to the climate carry the risks of severe and sometimes irreversible impacts to our natural and human systems. In Lakewood, drought, reduced snowpack, strained water supply, disaster recovery costs and other impacts are already influencing municipal operations and household economies.
The Lakewood Sustainability Division works to do our part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate system in order to ensure a resilient future.
Lakewood measures communitywide emissions through GHG emission inventories. These help us understand where emissions come from and what might be driving their growth is the first step toward reducing our contribution to global GHG emissions. You can download the 2018 GHG inventory summary sheet(PDF, 553KB) or read the full 2018 report(PDF, 353KB).
Lakewood annually reports its GHG emissions and efforts to reduce emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). In 2018, Lakewood joined 43 other cities around the world on the CDP Cities A List, for its leadership in environmental action.
The city's Sustainability Plan uses the GHG inventory as a baseline from which to measure future emission reductions. The strategies included in the plan aim to reduce the community’s overall GHG emissions and achieve its goals of reducing communitywide GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2025 and reducing GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2050.