Georgia Tech to Help Develop State’s First Climate Action Plan

Outline of the state of Georgia on a dark blue background with the image of the sun shining through a tree inside the outline of the state.

Georgia Tech researchers will help the state develop its first climate action plan.

Georgia Tech researchers have spent years diving deep into climate solutions for Georgia. Now, the state Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division has tapped them to help develop the state’s first climate action plan. 

The plan will help the state compete for up to $500 million in federal funding for climate mitigation efforts under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Under a contract with the agency, the Georgia Tech team will work with partners across Georgia to help the state develop its greenhouse gas inventory, develop a plan to address the most important immediate opportunities the state can take to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially help develop policies and programs to reach those goals. 

“Georgia Tech and our academic, business, and community partners from across the state are uniquely suited to help Georgia identify implementation-ready solutions that can significantly reduce emissions and have beneficial impacts on Georgia communities,” said Marilyn A. Brown, Regents’ Professor and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy.

“As part of our work with Drawdown Georgia, we already have been deeply involved in identifying climate pollution reduction strategies to drive economic and employment growth, improve air quality, deliver benefits to under-resourced residents, and protect the environment. That work gives us a great head start in providing the state the information it needs to develop Georgia’s first climate action plan,” Brown said.

Georgia Tech-Built Emissions Tracker Key Component

Drawdown Georgia is an initiative of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation to accelerate progress toward net zero greenhouse gas emissions in Georgia. Brown led the interdisciplinary science and policy team that helped develop the plan’s recommendations. 

Central to the project is the climate emissions tracker developed at Georgia Tech as part of that project. The tool provides monthly insights into carbon emissions across Georgia’s 159 counties, providing more timely, accurate, and cost-effective data than the traditional tools used in other climate planning efforts. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the tracker and gave special permission for the state to use it, said William J. Drummond, associate professor in the School of City & Regional Planning and co-principal investigator on the project.

Many other states will instead have to use more traditional bottom-up inventories that take longer to create and are not as frequently updated, he said.

“The work we have done has been peer-reviewed and published, and so it has a level of authoritativeness that other states may not enjoy,” said Drummond, who led the tracker’s development. “We are uniquely positioned to identify actionable solutions for Georgia, help the state meet its incredibly tight timeline, and give Georgia a competitive advantage that other states just can’t match.” 

The Atlanta Regional Commission, which received separate funding to make a plan specific to metro Atlanta, also will use the tracker in its work. 

State Plan Due in March

The state’s priority plan is due in March, with the full plan due a year later. 

“The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is excited to work with Georgia Tech in the development of the state's first climate action plan and appreciates all the work that Georgia Tech and other Drawdown Georgia partners have done to lay the groundwork for this project,” said DeAnna Oser, assistant branch chief of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Air Protection Branch.

The effort is focused on implementation-ready solutions. Brown said proposals could include projects that advance transportation electrification, energy-efficient housing, climate-smart agriculture, forest management, and urban tree canopies, among other opportunities.

She said it is exciting to see the years of work her team has put into climate mitigation practices and policies to help move Georgia closer to being climate-neutral. 

“We’ve always hoped that this work would have real policy impacts that will help improve our environment, economy, and society,” Brown said. “It’s exhilarating to see the state recognize and incorporate our work, and I look forward to seeing where it leads.”

News Contact

Michael Pearson
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts