Climate change in Texas

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According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the climate in Texas is already changing due to anthropogenic climate change.[1] As of 2016, most of the state had already warmed by 1.5 degrees since the previous century because of global warming.[1] Texas is expected to have a wide range of environmental impacts, including rising sea levels, increased extreme weather and wildfires, and pressure on water resources.[1]

The primary factors in Texas' greenhouse gas emissions are the state's large number of coal power plants and the state's refining and manufacturing industries which provides the bulk of the United States' petroleum products.[2] Texas accounts for 41% of crude oil production, 25% of natural gas, and 31% of refining capacity, and has some of the highest potential for sustainable power, producing 28% of wind power for the United States.[3]


Air pollution occurs throughout major cities in Texas.

Texas emits the most greenhouse gases in the US.[4][5] The state's annual carbon dioxide emissions are nearly 1.5 trillion pounds (680 billion kg). Texas would be the world's seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases if it were an independent nation.[5][6][7][8]


As of February 2020, Texas's energy mix includes 18,705 MWh Natural Gas, 4,823 MWhs Coal, 3,548 MWhs Nuclear and 8,317 MWhs renewables.[9] Half of energy consumed in the state is from refineries and petrochemical plants. [9]

Fossil fuel industry[edit]

Texas oilfield account for 41% of crude oil production, 25% of natural gas, and 31% of refining capacity.[3] Texas is also the largest Lignite producer in the United States.[10] An April 2020 statement by a representative of the Texas Oil and Gas Association leadership expressed a commitment to reducing emissions through low carbon technologies.[11]

Climate change impacts[edit]

Texas is among the Deep South states that could experience the worst effects of climate change.[12]


In some parts of the state, precipitation will fall. The amount of precipitation on extremely wet or snowy days in winter is likely to decrease, and the amount of precipitation on extremely wet days in summer is likely to increase.[1] Rainstorms are expected to become more extreme, causing localized flooding.[1]t is not clear how severe storms such as hurricanes would change.[1]

The frequency of extremely hot days in summer would increase because of the general warming trend.[1] Many arid climates in Texas will likely enter desertification or lose its productivity for activities like livestock.[1] In 2020, high temperatures and lack of rainfall lead to a drought with D3 (extreme) and D4 (exceptional) categories in Texas as well as many other Western and Central states.[13] The drought lasted through the months of June to December and resulted in 45 deaths as well as an estimated cost of 4.5 billion dollars. [13]

Coastal changes[edit]

Sea level is rapidly rising, estimated 2-5 feet, on many parts of the Texas coast, due to both sinking land from groundwater extraction and climate change.[1] These changes plus more extreme hurricanes and other coastal storms mean that the state's coastal infrastructure including public infrastructure like roads, fossil fuel infrastructure such as refineries, and housing infrastructure will be challenged.[1]

Water resources[edit]

Several major river basins lie partly or entirely within Texas. Unless increased temperatures are coupled with a strong increase in rainfall, water could become more scarce. A warmer and drier climate would lead to greater evaporation, and less water for recharging groundwater aquifers, especially in Western Texas where aquifers are already under significant pressure.[1] In some parts of the state, increased rainfall could mitigate these effects, but also could contribute to localized flooding. Additionally, climate change could give rise to more frequent and intense rainfall, resulting in flash flooding.[1]

Satellite image showing wind whipped smoke and dust from wildfires blowing southeast across Texas.

Action to address climate change[edit]

City action[edit]

Texas has the following Clean Cities coalitions:

Georgetown, Texas is powered 100% by renewable energy.[10]

Climate Action Plans[edit]


Austin developed the Austin Community Climate Plan in 2015 with goals to become carbon neutral in 2050.[18] The plan details numerous actions that should be taken by the Electricity and Natural Gas, Transportation and Land Use, and Material and Waste Management Sectors to reduce greenhouse gases.[18] It also identifies how different member of the community fit in to this plan and how what benefits it could provide them such as lower energy costs and enhanced public transportation options.[18]


Houston initiated the Houston Climate Action Plan on April 22, 2020 with the goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement to become carbon neutral by 2050.[19] The plan has four focus areas: Transportation, Energy transition, Building optimization, and Materials Management.[20] They hope that the plan will provide other benefits besides reducing emissions such as savings from energy efficiency and less traffic congestion.[19]  


Dallas initiated the Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan in May of 2020 with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050.[21] The plan outlines 8 focus areas to reach its goals: renewable energy, energy efficient building construction, access to sustainable transportation, zero waste, water resource protection, green spaces, access to healthy and local food, and clean air.[21] Through partnerships, grants and loans, legislation, green bonds, voluntary participations, and incentives, the city of Dallas plans to implement its proposed actions.[21]

Renewable energy[edit]

The renewable energy industry is rapidly growing in the state. The state has high potential for both solar and wind, with high complementarity, where wind peaks when solar bottoms out and vice versa. This means that the states grid will be better able to handle the inconsistency of renewable.[10] However, full access to that resource requires rebuilding the power grid.[10]

During the COVID 19 pandemic and 2020 Russia–Saudi Arabia oil price war, green energy companies actively hired fossil fuel workers lost form the industry.[22]

Wind power[edit]

The wind farms in Texas are spread over 40 projects and had a total installed nameplate capacity of 25,629 megawatts as of the second quarter of 2019.[23][24] If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world[23] behind only China, the United States, Germany, and India.[citation needed] As of the third quarter of 2013, Texas produced the most wind power of any U.S. state.[23][25] According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), wind power accounted for at least 15.7 percent of the electricity generated in Texas during 2017. Wind power accounted for 17.4 percent of the electricity managed by ERCOT.[26][27] ERCOT set a new wind output record of nearly 19.7 gigawatts at 7:19 pm Central Standard Time on January 21, 2019.[28]

Solar power[edit]
Solar array in Austin[29]
Solar power in Texas, a portion of total energy in Texas, includes utility-scale solar power plants as well as local distributed generation, mostly from rooftop photovoltaics. The western portion of the state especially has abundant open land areas, with some of the greatest solar and wind potential in the country.[30][31] Development activities there are also encouraged by relatively simple permitting and significant available transmission capacity.[32][33]


The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) provides grants for alternative fuel and advanced technology demonstration and infrastructure projects. Under TERP, the New Technology Research and Development Program provides incentives to encourage and support research, development, and commercialization of technologies that reduce pollution in Texas. The NTRD Program is administered by the Texas Environmental Research Consortium, with support from the Houston Advanced Research Center.

The Texas State Energy Conservation Office researches and assists public and private entities in securing grants to encourage the use of alternative fuels. This includes the use of hybrid electric vehicles and the conversion of state and local government fleets to operate on compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, and bioethanol.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "What Climate Change Means for Texas" (PDF). EPA. August 2016. EPA 430-F-16-045.
  2. ^ Associated Press (June 3, 2007). "Texas No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Texas - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  4. ^ Borenstein, Seth (April 6, 2007). "Blame Coal: Texas Leads in Overall Emissions". USA Today. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Associated Press (June 3, 2007). "Texas No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  6. ^ MSN City Guides. "Five Cities that Need help Getting Green". Archived from the original on May 28, 2008. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  7. ^ Heinrich Boll Foundation North America (December 2003). "Approaches, Challenges, Potentials: Renewable Energy and Climate Change Policies in U.S. States" (PDF). Clean Energy States Alliance. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 8, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b "Texas - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  10. ^ a b c d Irfan, Umair (2019-01-07). "Texas's wind and sunlight complement each other exceptionally well. That's huge for its grid". Vox. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  11. ^ "Is Climate Change Denial Thawing in Texas?". Texas Monthly. 2020-03-18. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  12. ^ Robinson Meyer (June 29, 2017). "The American South Will Bear the Worst of Climate Change's Costs". The Atlantic.
  13. ^ a b "Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Events | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)". Retrieved 2021-03-17.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c "Austin Community Climate Plan" (PDF).
  19. ^ a b "Climate Action Plan". Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  20. ^ "Houston Climate Action Plan" (PDF).
  21. ^ a b c "Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Plan" (PDF).
  22. ^ Eckhouse, Brian (May 29, 2020). "Oil-Bust Refugees Are Being Courted By Clean Energy in Texas". Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  23. ^ a b c AWEA Texas Fact Sheet
  24. ^
  25. ^ "AWEA Third Quarter 2012 Market Report" (PDF). Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "ERCOT Quick Facts for 2017 published July 2018" (PDF). July 1, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  27. ^ "ERCOT Quick Facts for 2017 published February 2018" (PDF). February 1, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  28. ^ "ERCOT Sets Record Wind Output and Penetration Rate Over the Holiday Weekend". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  29. ^ Output data[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "A State-By-State View Of U.S. Renewable Energy In 2017". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  31. ^ "Comparison of Solar Power Potential by State". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  32. ^ "Is a Solar Development Boom About to Begin in Texas?". Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  33. ^ Accounts, Texas Comptroller of Public. "State Energy Conservation Office". Retrieved 23 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]