Professional Practice

Climate Change Mitigation and Landscape Architecture

Global climate change is the defining environmental issue of our time. From devastating wildfires to historic storms and rising seas, the effects are already being felt and will continue to get worse. According to NASA, sea levels could rise anywhere from 8 inches to 6.5 feet by 2100. Additional impacts include increased spread of diseases; extensive species extinction; mass human, animal, and plant migrations; and resource wars over dwindling food and water supplies. Furthermore, these impacts will disproportionately affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

Sustained, meaningful commitments and actions to substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all sectors of our economy can help avoid the worst of these negative impacts. The benefits of these actions will be measured in lives saved and communities spared.

In 2015, the international community gathered in Paris, France, and agreed to a landmark cooperative framework for limiting global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In order to meet this goal, GHG emissions will need to peak by 2020 and fall to zero by 2050. This is an immense goal, but also achievable.

Landscape architects are helping to shift us to a carbon neutral future. They plan and design dense, walkable communities that reduce emissions from transportation and sprawl. They make the built environment more energy and carbon efficient with strategies like green roofs, water-efficient design, and use of sustainable materials and construction practices. They defend and expand carbon-sequestering landscapes such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands, helping to drawdown atmospheric carbon dioxide. All of these efforts also enable communities to better adapt to climate change and improve their resilience.

The threats posed by climate change are immense, and there is no single strategy that will solve the climate crisis on its own. Instead, mitigation requires an “all hands on deck” approach as we seek to reduce GHG emissions wherever possible. Achieving a carbon neutral future will only come about through the cumulative effect of countless individual actions. Every one of those individual actions counts.

U.S. Organizations

America's Pledge

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

National Climate Adaptation Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

National Renewable Energy Laboratory  

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: Climate

U.S. Climate Alliance

U.S. Climate Action Network 

U.S. Global Change Research Program

We Are Still In

International Organizations

Climate Change, United Nations Environment Programme

The Climate Group

European Commission Directorate for the Environment

The Global Environment Facility

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

Mission 2020

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

World Resources Institute

Resources

Amid the Climate Crisis, Glimpses of a Sustainable Future, The Dirt blog, March 15, 2018

Climate Action Tracker

Climate Change Indicators: U.S. Greenhouse Gases, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Emissions Gap Report, UN Environment

Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), IPCC

Household Carbon Footprint Calculator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Landscape Architecture and the Challenge of Climate Change, The Landscape Institute

The Paris Climate Agreement (2015)

Smart Policies for a Changing Climate, American Society of Landscape Architects

Ultimate Climate Change FAQ, The Guardian

United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization (2016)

Research

Climate.gov, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

Global Change Reports and Assessments, U.S. Global Change Research Program

Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2016, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Project Drawdown 

Carbon Registries and Markets

The World's Carbon Markets, The Environmental Defense Fund

American Carbon Registry

The Carbon Market Institute (Australia)

Climate Registry

The European Union Emissions Trading System

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative


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