Climate Change in Idaho and Local Emissions
The Paris Climate Agreement is an international law that aims to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, strengthen resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, and govern finance toward low-carbon and climate-resilient development. Limiting global warming will require widespread and innovative changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation, and land use.
The United States committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50 – 52 percent by 2030. The federal climate plan outlines policy interventions and federal investments in grid modernization, clean energy, energy efficiency, building decarbonization, transportation electrification, and workforce development.
Climate Change Impacts in Idaho
Idaho’s changing climate is already impacting livelihoods and our way of life. It will likely lead to significant impacts on the region’s outdoor recreation-based economy.
Over the past century, Idaho’s climate has warmed one to two degrees Fahrenheit. Diminishing snowpack shortens the ski season, one of the drivers of Blaine County’s outdoor recreation-based economy. The past few years illustrate the range of impacts in Blaine County. In 2017, the spring flooding in the Big Wood River damaged property, led to mandatory evacuations, caused power outages, and resulted in one death. In 2020, extreme heat, drought, and poor air quality were defining conditions in the summer. The drought in 2021 led to reduced stream flows that threatened fish populations. Drought conditions also halted irrigation to some farmers. The 2022 Ross Fork wildfire burned nearly 38,000 acres and led to trail and area closures in the Sawtooth National Forest.
To learn more about the effects of climate change in Idaho, visit the University of Idaho’s McClure Center Climate-Economy Assessment
Blaine County’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory
As part of our climate action planning process, Blaine County began inventorying Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in 2007. In 2018, the county collaborated with the other jurisdictions in the Wood River Valley and with ICLEI USA to produce an updated GHG emissions inventory. The resulting inventory provided data of Blaine County’s community-wide GHG emissions in 2018.
The GHG inventory found that in 2018 Blaine County municipalities, businesses, residents, and visitors were responsible for emitting 336,107 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). In comparison to emissions data from 2007, total community-wide emissions were 71 percent higher in 2018.
The single largest contributor was the transportation sector which accounted for 40 percent of emissions. The next largest contributor was residential building energy with 34 percent of emissions. Commercial and industrial building energy contributed nearly 20 percent of emissions. Together, transportation and the building sector represented nearly 95 percent of total emissions. Actions to reduce emissions will necessarily focus on these two sectors.
For a more in-depth look at the emissions data, read the Blaine County 2018 Inventory of Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions.