City Council Work Session

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Meeting Date: 11/10/2020  
From: Nicole Antonopoulos, Sustainability Director
Department: Administration  

Discuss strategies that would recognize the true cost of carbon associated with transportation in Flagstaff and looking at options to offset that true cost in some fashion.
Discussion and possible direction.
In 2018, the transportation sector accounted for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, making it the largest share of the nation's emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from the burning of fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90 percent of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum-based, which includes gasoline and diesel. 

In Flagstaff, the transportation sector accounts for 42 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (average of 2016 and 2018 emissions). This is the second-largest contributor to community-generated greenhouse gas emissions. The largest contributor is energy for the powering of buildings.
A carbon cost calculator was used to determine the cost of transportation-based emissions. This calculation is known as the social cost of carbon (SCC). The SCC is an estimate, in dollars, of the present value of future economic damages that would result from emitting one additional ton of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The SCC puts the effects of climate change into economic terms to help policymakers and other decision-makers understand the economic impacts of decisions that would increase or decrease emissions. The SCC is currently used by local, state, and federal governments to inform billions of dollars of policy and investment decisions in the United States and abroad.

The cost factors used in Flagstaff's SCC is based on best practices among peer cities. The SCC is calculated at $55 per metric ton. The 2018 SCC of Flagstaff's greenhouse gas emissions is $44,590,000. The transportation sector alone accounts for $18,690,000. 


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