The most common greenhouse gases – the primary accelerators of climate change – are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have led to an increased number of extreme heat days and changes in precipitation patterns. To lessen the negative effects of climate change, local, state, and federal governments, along with residents and businesses, are measuring and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The first step in this process is conducting a greenhouse gas inventory. Greenhouse gas inventories help entities, including local governments, understand the quantity of emissions and their sources. This measurement allows cities, towns, and counties to set baselines and create plans that detail goals, projects, and programs to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Baseline inventories can also help communities understand the changes they are experiencing. As temperatures increase due to climate change, demand for air conditioning and energy use increases, resulting in additional greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, extreme weather makes energy use more variable and unpredictable in a single year and from year to year. These changes can impact the energy use projections that greenhouse gas reduction strategies are based on.