The effects of climate change
As recent hurricanes bring climate change and its effects to the limelight, media attention has focused on the impact of climate change on coastal cities due to seal level rise. What is less prevalent on the news is the significant impact that climate change will have even on inland cities . Dallas is a prime example of an inland city that is far from escaping the effects of climate change.
Under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, the city of Dallas could face ~20 more days per year when the temperature reaches >100 F by mid-century, and over 100 total days annually when the temperature reaches >100 F by the end of the century. Furthermore, Dallas will be subject to more pronounced and severe droughts (~20% increase in duration by mid-century), while the majority of precipitation will occur all at once during the winter months. These changes will manifest themselves in the population not only through more heat strokes, but also through poorer air/ water quality. The result will be a migration of the middle class out of Texas into the Midwest . It is prudent for the city of Dallas to take measures to mitigate the effects of climate change within the city to safeguard its population and future economy.
Current efforts by the city of Dallas
It wasn’t until 2014 that the city of Dallas first made sustainability a core focus of its Annual Report. In this report, the city set targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions from city government operations by 39% of 1990 levels by September 2017. Further, the city set a longer-term target to be carbon neutral by 2050 . The city of Dallas took many steps to reach its sustainability goals by targeting its pseudo-“supply chain” inputs: air, land/ materials, and energy.
To improve air quality, the city promoted its “Green Ride” program to encourage carpooling or public transport, expanded its street car service in downtown areas, and replaced 113 vehicles (e.g. sanitation, buses) in its fleet with cleaner alternatives, among other actions .
To improve land/ materials management, the city is retrofitting lights (street, traffic, city building) to LED bulbs, building new facilities to LEED certified levels, promoting ENERGY STAR appliances in commercial/ residential buildings, adding >700 acres of green areas, and promoting recycling, among other actions .
To improve its energy use, the city has purchased enough wind energy credits to offset its 720 GWh of annual energy use . While these actions do serve to aid the city of Dallas in its greenhouse gas emissions goals, there are mixed results in other programs, such as recycling, that require greater involvement from the population.
In order to achieve its long-term emissions targets, the city of Dallas can emulate three steps taken by cities such as Austin and Boston.
First, the city of Dallas needs to lay out a more concrete action plan till 2050 that comprises of 5-10 year aggressive targets to spur innovation and involvement. For example, the city of Austin set the target for all municipal operations to be carbon neutral by 2020, followed by a target to have zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Through such aggressive targets, the city of Austin is ensuring that its action plans are tailored towards increasing involvement from city residents. Moreover, the city’s resolution to reach zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 explicitly requires city staff and stakeholders to publish periodic goals from 2020 to 2050 in order to measure and drive progress .
Second, the city of Dallas needs to form strategic partnerships with business in the city that can help drive its energy goals. For example, the city of Austin has partnered with Austin Energy to align on a generation plan to 2025, and explicitly has a resolution to make Austin Energy the “leading utility in the nation for greenhouse gas emissions” .
Third, the city of Dallas can force engagement from its residents through pricing/ incentive mechanisms. For example, the city of Boston is attempting to ban the use of plastic bags at retailers in the city. Further, many retailers now charge 10 cents to provide even a paper bag. This has incentivized the population to re-use/ bring their own bags .
As the city of Dallas continues its efforts towards a clear, more sustainable future, an open question remains as to how the city can enforce its targets, and whom the enforcement should affect. Additionally, as community-wide emissions target require active participation from the population, how should the city balance education and pricing/incentive mechanisms to bring its residents and businesses on board? These questions will inform the city on how to define its roadmap from 2020 to 2050 to ensure that Dallas remains the bustling metropolitan center it is today.
 Macon, Alex. “Climate change will be very bad for Dallas county”. D-Magazine. 20 July 2017. Available at: https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2017/07/climate-change-will-be-very-bad-for-dallas-county/ [Accessed 3 November 2017]
 Pryor, S. C., D. Scavia, C. Downer, M. Gaden, L. Iverson, R. Nordstrom, J. Patz, and G. P. Robertson, 2014: Ch. 18: Midwest. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. Available at: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/regions/great-plains [Accessed 3 November 2017]
 City of Dallas. (2014) City of Dallas Annual Report. Available at: http://annualreport.dallascityhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2014-Annual-Report_English.pdf [Accessed 4 November 2017]
 Office of Environmental Quality, Dallas. “Sustainability Plan Progress Report”. 21 March 2014. Available at: http://greendallas.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/QOL_sustainplanreport_032414.pdf [Accessed 3 November 2017]
 Goodall, Jannette. Resolution 20140410-024. 10 April 2014. Available at: http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Sustainability/Climate/Resolution_No_20140410-024.pdf [Accessed 4 November 2017]
 Gentry, Shirley A. Resolution 20070215-023. 15 February 2007. Available at: http://austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Sustainability/ACPP_resolution_20070215-023.pdf [Accessed 4 November 2017]
 An act reducing plastic bag pollution. S424. 119th General Court of Massachusett. 19 January 2017. Available at: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S424 [Accessed 4 November 2017]