Climate Change in San Antonio

San Antonio is committed to tracking and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and preparing our community to a changing climate. 

SA Climate Ready

Climate Change in San Antonio

Together, we are building solutions to prepare our city for climate change. Along with its partners and members of the community, the City of San Antonio adopted a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) on October 17, 2019. The CAAP will lay a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions, adapt to a changing climate, and ensure San Antonio remains a healthy, vibrant place for generations to come.

Visit the SA Climate Ready Library to view the adopted Plan and other documents.

  

The SA Climate Ready Logo

  

image of a splash pad park

SA Climate Ready

Climate Equity

Equity means that our policy-making, service delivery, and distribution of resources account for the different histories, challenges, and needs of the people we serve. Equity differs from equality, which treats everyone the same despite disparate outcomes. (City of San Antonio, Equity Office, 2017)

illustration of the greenhouse effect with solar energy trapped in the atmosphere

  

Climate Change in San Antonio - Greenhouse Gases

The Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are essential to life on Earth as they provide a “blanket” in our atmosphere that traps heat and regulates the Earth’s temperature. GHGs are released naturally in our environment for this very reason. However, when we burn fossil fuels to power our homes, businesses and automobiles and place material in our landfill to decompose, we increase the level of greenhouse gases. This increase in gases has essentially created a much thicker “blanket” and higher global temperatures that have led to disruptions in the Earth’s climate. 

  

Climate Change in San Antonio - Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Gases

Some GHGs like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N20) are naturally occurring, but are enhanced from human activity, such as driving our cars; lighting, heating, and cooling our homes and businesses; and sending waste to the landfill. Other GHGs like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride are man-made.

  

illustration of common greenhouse gases; CO2, CH4, N2Om HFCs, PFCs, SF6
Image of flooding during Hurricane Harvey

Climate Change in San Antonio - Greenhouse Gases

How Climate Change Impacts San Antonio

In the past few years, San Antonio has experienced and witnessed extreme events in our region, because of our changing climate we can expect this to be more common in our future. Events like 1. Hurricane Harvey, 2. the most expensive hail storm in Texas history (totaling nearly $1.4 billion in losses) and 3. going from drought to excessive flooding this past September.

We are building solutions to prepare our city for climate change. Along with its partners and members of the community, the City of San Antonio has developed a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, SA Climate Ready. Visit our website to learn what we are doing and get involved!

  

Climate Change in San Antonio - Greenhouse Gases

Feeling the Heat in San Antonio

San Antonio already feels the impacts of climate change, especially during the summer heat. Climate projections show that our future will be hotter and dryer. By 2040, summer maximum temperatures will be 4°F higher on average than they are today—and annually, we will experience 24 more days over 100°F (that is an additional month of high heat) and receive 3” less rain.

  

a man suffering from heat exhaustion
A chart labeld: "Climate Change Affects all of These Things". San Antonio Climate Projections by 2040: -3 Fewer Inches of rainfall annually. What does this mean for you? More frequent and longer droughts. Reduced water and food security. +24 additional days over 100 degres Fahrenheit. What does this mean for you? Increased risk of heat caused illnesses. Less time outdoors on hot days. +4 Degrees Fahrenheit Summer maximum temperatures. What does this mean for you? Increased risk of severe weather and storms. Increased cooling costs for homes and businesses

 

Climate Change in San Antonio - Greenhouse Gases

Compounding Effects

By 2040, San Antonians can expect to experience more frequent and longer droughts, less time outdoors due to hotter days and more severe weather and storms. All of these changes will also cause our community to spend more money on cooling our homes and businesses.

San Antonio's Community GHG Emissions

Why We Measure GHG Emissions

Looking at GHG emissions throughout the community helps us understand where there is room for improvement and where our efficiency and reduction efforts have succeeded. 

UNIT
GHGs have a natural heat trapping capacity which varies by gas. Humans produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other GHG. We count emissions of GHGs based on how each GHG’s heat trapping capacity compares to CO2s. This is called the CO2 equivalent (CO2e). We measure GHGs in metric tons of CO2e (mtCO2e)
MTCO2eMetric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent

Community GHG Emissions

GHGs by Sector

There are many activities that create GHGs in San Antonio, but just a few sectors tend to dominate our emissions profile. In 2019, nearly half of all emissions in San Antonio were related to the use of energy in buildings. This includes lighting, heating and cooling, as well as all the appliances and devices we use.

Transportation activities were the second largest source of GHG emissions, primarily from private automobile traffic. These two sectors make up 84% of our total GHGs.

Community GHG Emissions

Our Targets

Avoiding the most serious climate change impacts will require significant emissions reductions in the next decade. As one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, San Antonio has a particular challenge of reducing emissions alongside the projected increase in population. To meet the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 San Antonio has set the following interim goals:

Target Sector:
Percent reduction from 2016 emissions
2030 2040 2050
Total Emissions 41% 71% 100%
Stationary Emissions 41% 74% 100%
Transportation Emissions 47% 75% 100%
Solid Waste Emissions 32% 54% 100%
Water Supply Emissions <1% <1% 100%
Industrial Process Emissions 23% 56% 100%

Community GHG Emissions

Annual Totals

Since 2013, our total GHGs have reduced by 7%.  It's a indicator that we're moving in the right direction, however more action is needed to stay on track.

Hitting our reduction targets will mean that we’ll need to do more than grow more efficiently and use more renewable electricity. To create the deep reductions we're aiming for, we'll need to retrofit our existing buildings and transportation systems to consume less energy as they also transition to use clean electricity.

Community GHG Emissions

Cleaner Electricity

Within buildings, our use of electricity makes up the majority of energy use and the resulting emissions. Electricity is responsible for 83% of our building related GHGs which means that changes in renewable energy will have a big impact on our overall inventory.

As you can see in this chart, emissions from electricity use declined by 8% between 2016 and 2019, even though electricity use rose by over 2%. In the future we expect that usage will continue to rise as we shift heating energy and transportation to cleaner energy sources. We'll be counting on more renewable energy coming online, as well as conservation, to ensure that total GHGs from electricity continue to decline and bring down GHGs from other sectors as well.

Community GHG Emissions

Increased Gas Use

Between 2016 and 2019, total building energy emissions dropped by 397,917 mtCO2e, but as you can see from the chart, natural gas use and emissions increased across all three sectors over the same time period.

This illustrates that we cannot only rely on developing renewable energy, we also need to reduce the consumption of other types of energy, including natural gas.

Community GHG Emissions

Transport Vehicles and Fuels

Transportation is the second largest source of GHGs in San Antonio and it is also the sector that is growing most quickly with private vehicle use growing 5% from 2016 to 2019. Reversing that trend will require developing San Antonio to support active transportation modes, maintaining strong transit connections and supporting the shift to electric vehicles (EVs).

Currently, gasoline and diesel dominate the fuels we use in transportation; however, electricity is quickly rising in usage. Click the chart legend to "turn off" gasoline and diesel to reveal the GHGs from EVs we see today.

As EVs take a larger share of vehicle miles traveled, we expect that GHGs from them won't grow significantly as this transition will happen with progressively cleaner electricity.

You can make a difference!

Remember that you, as a customer, can influence the energy choices a retail store makes! All you need to do is tell them you care about energy efficient technologies and sustainable energy supply. CPS Energy even has a program that will help them get started!

CPS Energy Save Now

Community GHG Emissions

Join the Cause!

Learn more about what San Antonio is doing to prepare for climate change at the SA Climate Ready Forum! Our success depends on residents like you. Already, hundreds of your neighbors have joined us at events across the city to share their thoughts for a climate-ready San Antonio.

Municipal GHG Emissions

Municipal Operations Inventory

Tracking the GHGs from our own municipal operations helps the City of San Antonio prioritize and make improvements to improve the efficiency of our own buildings, vehicles, and other equipment.

In 2019 our municipal operations GHGs totaled 272,675 mtCO2e, about 1.5% of the city-wide total. The largest contributor in our case comes from landfills, depicted in pink, which emit methane - a greenhouse gas that is 28x as powerful at driving global warming than CO2. 

Municipal GHG Emissions

Reductions Achieved

Between 2016 and 2019, we achieved significant changes across municipal operations. We also saw a drop of over 5,000 mtCO2e from streetlights and traffic signals, and nearly a 20,000 mtCO2e drop from buildings and facilities.

Improving building operations provides opportunities for significant reductions, and the City of San Antonio is working to track and report our energy use better to hold ourselves accountable to the goals of the SA Climate Ready Plan. Learn more about our building energy benchmarking practices on our website and through our new Municipal Benchmarking Report.

Climate Change in San Antonio - Community GHG Emissions

Every San Antonion Can Take Action to Reduce their GHG Emissions!

There are many ways you can reduce your contribution to San Antonio's greenhouse gas emissions.


Find out of solar energy is right for you!

Bring Solar Home
Get your home weatherized for free!

CPS Energy Casa Verde
Ride VIA!

Find out how easy it is to take public transportation
Find out how to make your new home or newly renovated home green!

Build San Antonio Green
Start your own recycling center in your office!

ReWorksSA Toolkit