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ARIZONA

ARIZONA

As the sixth largest state, Arizona has a lot of land, and a lot of desert. Situated at the heart of the scorching American Southwest, Arizona regularly clocks in as one of the hottest states in the country and is home to the two hottest cities in the United States. As the Earth warms, Arizona’s 7.3 million residents face life-threatening rising temperatures and ever-dwindling water supplies. In 2021, 113 confirmed heat-related deaths in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) was double 2020’s number. Arizona’s homeless population will be particularly vulnerable to this health hazard. The dry, hot terrain also contributes to the state’s ongoing megadrought, which adds to a whole host of issues including the diminishment of the Colorado River, which supplies water to over a third of Arizona’s population. As temperatures have risen and drought intensified, wildfires have grown larger and burn more severely.

Arizona’s energy trends lend some hope, however. Per capita energy consumption in Arizona is already among the lowest in the nation, and the state is uniquely poised for a switch to renewable and clean energy. It has some of the best solar resources in the country and produces the nation’s highest-grade uranium — crucial for nuclear energy generation. Arizona has put this resource to work in the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant. Palo Verde generates more electricity annually than any other U.S. plantsecond only to the Grand Coulee Dam in total electricity generating capacity. Fossil fuels, unfortunately, continue to play a significant role. Since 2018, Arizona has reduced its dependency on coal but shifted to natural gas, which has become the state’s largest single energy source — generating one third of it’s power. The rest of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources, with a special emphasis on solar. Arizona ranks 5th in the nation for total solar installations.

In 2006, Arizona’s Climate Change Advisory Group was charged with preparing an inventory and forecast of Arizona’s greenhouse gas emissions and developing a Climate Change Action Plan with recommendations on how to reduce the state’s emissions. The report included a comprehensive set of 49 policy options.

By September of 2021, Arizona does not yet have a statewide adaptation plan despite the fact that they are the fourth-fastest warming state in the country. Local communities have taken up the battle as best they can. In 2009, Phoenix, the 2nd fastest warming city in the U.S., completed its  Climate Action Plan, which it plans to update by the end of 2021. Its goals: to become a carbon-neutral city by 2060 operating on 100% clean energy, with new buildings being net positive by 2050, and significant greenhouse gas reduction targets between 2025 and 2050. In July, 2020, Flagstaff declared a climate emergency. In September 2020, Tucson, the third fastest warming city in the nation, also  declared a climate emergency and will implement a decade long plan,  “Framework for Advancing Sustainability,”   to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Arizona lawmakers don’t make change easy. For example, in January of 2020, The Arizona Committee on Natural Resources and Energy voted to stop cities from prohibiting construction of natural gas-powered buildings.

In August, 2020, a highly anticipated meeting of the Arizona Corporation Commission ended abruptly, amid disputes over a roadmap to clean energy. In May, 2021  Arizona’s utility regulators rejected new rules that would have required most of the state’s electricity providers to get 100% of their power from clean energy sources by 2050 to limit carbon emissions and address climate change. Later that month the ACC, voted 3-2 to restart a rule-making process to establish a 100% clean energy standard for the state.  The commissioners are expected to vote on a final rule in the fall of 2021. Don’t hold your breath.

Or read the Sierra Club’s 2021 Environmental Report Card for the Arizona Legislature and Governor.

United Swing States of America - Arizona in the Grip of Climate Change | The Daily Show

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Flagstaff’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

04/02/20
The Flagstaff Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is a road map for how Flagstaff will prepare for and respond to climate change.

City of Phoenix Climate Action Plan for Government Operations

04/02/20
Phoenix has been recognized as a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainability and has a long history of implementing pollution control and natural resource conservation programs.

Arizona Climate Change Action Plan

04/02/20
Arizona's Climate Change Advisory Group, formed by executive order, was charged with (1) preparing an inventory and forecast of Arizona's greenhouse gas emissions, and (2) developing this Climate Change Action Plan with recommendations for reducing…

KEY RESOURCES

Images of change

07/03/22
Disappearing Lake Mead, Nevada-Arizona Border

Arizona State Profile and Energy Estimates

09/23/21
Arizona is known for its stunning landscapes and natural wonders from the Grand Canyon in the north to the Saguaro deserts in the south. The state has few fossil fuel reserves, but it does have…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

Sustainable Cities Network

11/09/20
Connecting communities, advancing sustainability, and cultivating solutions.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Arizona

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, Arizona experienced one drought and one wildfire. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Arizona

07/31/20
Arizona is vulnerable to increasing heat, melting snowpack, droughts, and wildfires

Preparing for Climate Change in Arizona

04/02/20
Arizona has not developed a statewide adaptation plan. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed by the state and localities to help communities prepare for climate change, are highlighted below.

Arizona state at risk

04/02/20
States at Risk is a project aimed at showing how Americans in all 50 states are experiencing the impacts of climate change. Our work focuses on five threats — extreme heat, drought, wildfires, coastal flooding…

Renewable Energy Standard & Tariff

04/02/20
In 2006, the Commission approved the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). These rules require that regulated electric utilities must generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. Each year, Arizona's utility…

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