INTRODUCTION

Combating climate change requires a collaborative effort amongst all citizens of this state. As the next generation takes the reigns of leadership across Nevada and beyond, Nevada will be in a stronger position for taking proactive action on climate change. Laying the foundation for continued climate action, developing smart policies, and using the best science to identify future risks will ensure the safety and wellbeing of Nevadans and protect the state’s natural resources, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Let me be clear: I will not spend a single second debating the reality of climate change. It is real, and it is irresponsible to ignore the science that proves it—and the lives it has already upended, especially across the West. As governor, I am committed to making Nevada a clean energy leader—not only to combat the effects of climate change for future generations, but also for the abundance of green-collar jobs we can create right now.”

– Governor Steve Sisolak

ESTABLISHING A LEGACY OF CLIMATE ACTION

On March 12, 2019, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that Nevada would join the United States Climate Alliance (USCA), a bipartisan coalition of 25 state governors committed to realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement, including reducing GHG emissions in order to keep global temperature rise well below 2ºC (3.6ºF) (Box 1). Throughout 2019, the legislature passed multiple climate-forward bills including SB 358 a statewide renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 50% by 2030. The adoption of SB 254 followed, requiring the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to develop an annual GHG emissions inventory for all major sectors of Nevada’s economy, including electricity generation, transportation, and other key sectors. This legislation also set aggressive, economy-wide GHG emissions-reduction targets for the state: 28% by 2025, 45% by 2030, and net-zero by 2050 (vs. a 2005 GHG emissions baseline). The 2019 GHG emissions inventory shows that Nevada will fall 4% short of the 2025 goal and 19% short of the 2030 goal if no additional action is taken by the state.

“Climate change knows no borders. By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, we are taking bold and coordinated steps to ensure a healthier future for our children and grandchildren. With these ambitious goals and commitments to reduce our carbon footprint, I am determined to make Nevada part of the solution.”

– Governor Steve Sisolak

In November 2019, Gov. Sisolak issued his executive order on climate change (EO 2019-22) directing State of Nevada agencies to identify and evaluate policies and regulatory strategies to achieve economy-wide GHG emissions-reduction targets established by SB 254. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (NDCNR) and the Governor’s Office of Energy were tasked to coordinate statewide, interagency effort to deliver Nevada’s first State Climate Strategy.

With the vision of ensuring a vibrant, climate-resilient future for Nevada, Gov. Sisolak launched the State of Nevada Climate Initiative (NCI) in the summer of 2020. The NCI is committed to reducing Nevada’s economy-wide GHG emissions and dedicated to achieving resilient communities that are prepared to successfully adapt to changing environmental and climatic conditions. The 2020 State Climate Strategy builds a foundation for future climate action under the NCI in anticipation of the need to take climate action on multiple fronts, and serve as a roadmap for policymakers at all levels of government in Nevada for achieving the state’s collective climate goals.

Box 1. U.S. Climate Alliance

In March of 2019, the State of Nevada joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors committed to reducing GHG emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Each state commits to reducing their emissions in line with the U.S. target under Paris, and all have enacted new climate policy measures since joining the Alliance. The Alliance is led by state governments and is focused on state-to-state cooperation to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions needed to help each achieve their climate goals.

The U.S. Climate Alliance has three core principles:

  1. States are continuing to lead on climate change: Alliance states recognize that climate change presents a serious threat to the environment and our residents, communities, and economy.
  2. State-level climate action is benefiting our economies and strengthening our communities: Alliance members are growing our clean energy economies and creating new jobs, while reducing air pollution, improving public health, and building more-resilient communities.
  3. States are showing the nation and the world that ambitious climate action is achievable: Alliance members are committed to supporting the international Paris Agreement, and are pursuing aggressive climate action to make progress toward its goals.

By joining the Alliance, governors commit to:

  • Implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce GHG emissions by at least 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2025
  • Track and report progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris Agreement, and
  • Accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level.

The U.S. Climate Alliance now represents 55% of the U.S. population and 60% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). The climate and clean energy policies of these states have created over 2.1 million clean energy jobs, equivalent to 60% of all clean energy jobs in the United States.

The State of Nevada remains committed to collaborating with fellow U.S. Climate Alliance states to foster a healthy, resilient, climate-friendly future for all.

THE 2020 CLIMATE STRATEGY

The overarching goals of the 2020 State Climate Strategy are to 1) provide a framework for reducing Nevada’s GHG emissions across all economic sectors, 2) lay the groundwork for climate adaptation and resilience, and 3) establish a structure for continued, ongoing climate action across the state.

The 2020 State Climate Strategy informs policymaking on how Nevada will achieve the ambitious targets established by SB 254 and provides an integrated framework for evaluating climate policies that make sense for Nevada.

Given the complexities of climate change, it is imperative that policies to reduce GHG emissions be approached systematically so there is a clear understanding of the benefits and tradeoffs.

This will optimize effectiveness of each given policy and therefore maximize the benefits for all Nevadans. By taking a smart, strategic approach to addressing climate change in Nevada, the state can fully capture the economic benefits of clean technologies and lead our peers in neighboring Western states.

The 2020 State Climate Strategy is a living document. Each section of the report is designed to stand alone such that content can be added or updated without compromising the integrity or relevance of another part of the document (Table 1). The NCI team led the development of the strategy, overseeing multiple interagency working groups. These working groups were coordinated around the strategy’s climate themes and led the development of the content and related stakeholder engagement activities (Table 2).

Table 1. 2020 State Climate Strategy Section Descriptions

2020 Climate Strategy SectionDescription
Climate Change in NevadaInformation here provides the motivation for climate action in Nevada. The section lays out science-based information about how climate change is impacting our communities and natural resources, alongside what we might expect in the future.
Climate Mitigation: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Nevada Climate Mitigation Policies Climate Mitigation: Complex Challenges for NevadaThese sections are the centerpiece of the 2020 strategy, as it provides a framework for evaluating policies, programs, and regulations that could reduce Nevada’s GHG emissions. The strategy also lays out the complexities of climate change and the broad scope of issues that should be considered together in order to develop a robust set of harmonized policies around both climate mitigation and climate resilience.
Climate Mitigation: Lead by ExampleNevada’s state agencies can develop, adopt, and implement internal emissions-reduction policies using the roadmap outlined here. This section also contains a catalog of the different State capital projects that could include energy efficiency investments.
Monitoring, Modeling, and Managing Greenhouse GasesThis section outlines the data and modeling requirements necessary to support the alignment of GHG emissions tracking with policy investments.
The Economics of Climate ActionThere are several components to this section. The cost of inaction is outlined along with opportunities to develop resources to support climate programs and policies. There is an accounting of opportunities for federal funding to support state climate action, as well as basic information about different types of carbon markets, and specific examples of models adopted elsewhere.
Nevada’s Climate Opportunity: Economic Recovery & RevitalizationThis part of the strategy highlights the economic opportunities of climate action, including information about the potential to expand the climate-friendly job market and attract green business and industry.
Climate GovernanceThis section outlines key characteristics important for establishing an effective governance structure to support the NCI, including effective processes to support ongoing climate action in the state.

Table 2. Climate Working Groups

Working GroupAgencies, Offices, & Departments Represented
Climate Change in NevadaNSHE
Climate SurveyNSHE
Development, Green Building, & Appliance EfficiencyGOE, ADMIN, CORR, NHD
Energy & PowerGOE, PUCN
TransportationNDOT, GOE, DMV
Land Use and Natural & Working LandsNDCNR, NDF, NDA
Lead by ExampleNDOT, GOE
Economic Recovery & RevitalizationNDOR, GOED
Greenhouse Gas EmissionsNDEP, NDOT, GOE
Legal Barriers to DecarbonizationNSHE, AG

The climate working groups led the development of content in the 2020 State Climate Strategy. These teams worked in consultation with other agencies as needed, even if they are not explicitly listed above. Members of the teams are listed here.

NSHE (Nevada System of Higher Education), GOE (Governor’s Office of Energy), ADMIN (Department of Administration), CORR (Nevada Department of Corrections), Nevada Housing Division (NHD), PUCN (Public Utilities Commission of Nevada), NDOT (Nevada Department of Transportation), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), NDCNR (Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), NDF (Nevada Division of Forestry), NDA (Nevada Department of Agriculture), NDOR (Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation), GOED (Governor’s Office of Economic Development), NDEP (Nevada Division of Environmental Protection), AG (Office of the Attorney General)

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

Stakeholder engagement to support the development of the 2020 State Climate Strategy was framed around the key message that this is just the beginning of what will be ongoing engagement. The threats and opportunities posed by climate change will evolve, and new risks will emerge as the climate continues to change, new technologies become available, and targeted policies are implemented. This requires ongoing discussion with all Nevadans to ensure that the NCI is responsive and addressing community concerns. The strategy is not the only step—it is among the first taken to support the broader mission of the NCI and establish Nevada as a leader in addressing all facets of climate changes in our state.

Although opportunities for engagement with Nevadans in the strategy’s development were more limited than originally envisioned given COVID-19 restrictions, thousands of Nevadans were engaged between June and October 2020 by participating in the Climate Survey, sharing perspectives during listening sessions, attending webinars or convenings, and by submitting comments and materials directly to the NCI team. The GHG Emissions Working Group also convened stakeholders to review the status of previous and ongoing GHG inventory efforts across the state.

  • Climate Survey: In collaboration with the UNLV Communications Department, a survey was administered and open to all Nevadans between August 24 and October 16, 2020. More than 1,500 responses were received from 13 of Nevada’s 16 counties as well as Carson City.
COUNTYTOTAL RESPONDENTS
None Selected315
Carson City87
Churchill6
Clark760
Douglas37
Elko13
Humboldt1
Lander2
Lincoln3
Lyon15
Mineral1
Nye17
Pershing1
Storey1
Washoe309
TOTAL1,568
  • Listening Sessions: Virtual convenings focused on different climate topics were held between mid-September and mid-October 2020. Officials from relevant state agencies moderated each listening session. Framing questions were presented in order to refine the scope of input. There was significant interest in these convenings, such that the technical platform had to be expanded to accommodate the unexpected widespread demand. A Spanish language listening session was also convened after multiple requests from different members of the public. Recordings of these sessions are archived.
TopicDate & TimeRegistered Participants
Renewable Energy9/14/20253
Land Use & Land Change9/15/20172
Transportation Transformation9/17/20192
Air Quality9/22/20161
Urban Planning9/24/20171
Economic Recovery9/29/20159
Green Buildings10/1/20163
Climate Justice10/06/20163
Spanish Language10/13/2016
  • 2020 Climate Strategy Roadshow: The NCI team contacted more than 70 industry groups, member organizations, chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, municipalities, and more to specifically discuss the 2020 State Climate Strategy. Of those contacted, the NCI team held more than 35 one-on-one meetings. Additionally, information about the 2020 State Climate Strategy was sent to all current members of the Senate and Assembly Growth and Infrastructure Committees as well as members of the Interim Committee on Energy. The NCI team met with a handful of legislators for one-on-one discussions. Finally, the NCI team was invited to present information about the 2020 State Climate Strategy by various groups and public bodies. Specifically, the NCI team gave more than a dozen presentations via webinars, formal member convenings, and public meetings.
  • Climate Emails: Additional comments—as well as documents, research, and expert opinion to consider in the development of the content—were submitted via email.