View of Lake Mead at a low level.

Climate Change in Clark County

Southern Nevada is a dynamic and vibrant community that is quickly growing, and expected to add another 1 million residents by 2060. At the same time, the region faces unprecedented challenges, like extreme heat and drought, due to climate change. In order to address climate change and respond to the risks facing the community, Clark County must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. 

Greenhouse effect

What is Causing Climate Change?

What is Climate Change?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) create a thick “blanket” in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun. This natural process is intensified when humans burn fossil fuels (like natural gas, coal, and gasoline) to power our homes, businesses, and vehicles. When there are too many GHGs, it can lead to disruptions in the Earth’s climate, resulting in changing temperatures and precipitation.

Learn More About Climate Change 

Traffic in Las Vegas

What is Causing Climate Change?

Our Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Understanding our contribution to climate change and identifying where our greenhouse gas emissions are coming from provides the groundwork for climate action planning. We completed a regional greenhouse gas inventory by analyzing data associated with activities that create emissions, such as driving to work or powering our homes. Inventory results suggest which climate actions to prioritize and help us track performance.

What is Causing Climate Change?

How We Impact the Climate

Across all sectors, the Southern Nevada region is responsible for 30 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (2019). This is approximately the same amount of emissions as burning a train-load of coal stretching from Las Vegas to Cleveland, Ohio! 

Our greenhouse gas emissions come from a variety of sources and we've broken them down to better understand how activities across the communities within Clark County contribute to our region's carbon footprint. Our biggest opportunities to reduce emissions are by using less energy in our homes and businesses, which contribute 47% of total emissions, and in our transportation which accounts for 37% of total emissions. Learn more about what drives greenhouse gas emissions in Clark County in the inventory report.

Download the Inventory Report 

What is Causing Climate Change?

Emissions Across the County

Clark County contains diverse jurisdictions, from rural to urban and everything in between. Each community has its own unique operations, geographies, and populations, and the amount of emissions produced tends to be affected by community size. For example, Las Vegas is the largest city with 29% of the population of Clark County, and accounts for 24% of Clark County's GHG emissions. 

Unincorporated towns contributed 18,469,387 MTCO2e and represented the largest share of regional emissions! (55%). This includes municipalities such as Enterprise, Paradise, Moapa, and Sunrise. Rural activities such as off-road transportation and agriculture, forestry, and other land use were included in this category. 

Download the Inventory Report 

Where Are We at Risk?

We Are Feeling the Heat

Here in Clark County, we have already begun to feel the impacts of a changing climate. Increasing greenhouse gas emissions create two changes in climate conditions in Clark County: higher temperatures and more extreme precipitation. These changes lead to climate hazards like extreme heat, drought, flooding, and wildfires. The County has also experienced extreme wind events in recent years, but the science on how climate change affects extreme wind is still evolving. 

These hazards have direct impacts on the local economy, infrastructure, and the health and well-being of Clark County’s communities. This infographic outlines the effects of changing temperature and rainfall patterns. 

Read the Climate Summary:

English     Spanish     Tagalog 

Where Are We at Risk?

Climate Hazards in Clark County: By the Numbers

These climate hazards threaten our communities' cultures and traditions, natural world, economy, and way of life. The impacts of these hazards are visible in Clark County today and predicted to become increasingly severe. 

Children wading in a pool

Climate Vulnerability

Clark County Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Clark County faces a unique set of climate challenges. The Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) is a tool that can tell us where we are most vulnerable to climate impacts and where we need to adapt. Identifying systems that are most vulnerable to certain climate impacts, such as electricity infrastructure to extreme heat or forest habitats to wildfires, helps us prioritize actions that increase our resilience.

Download the CVA Report 

Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Who is Most Impacted by Climate Change?

Climate hazards have the potential to impact everyone in Southern Nevada, but not in the same way - some people and communities are more vulnerable.

Climate vulnerability describes the degree to which a system is prone to and unable to cope with effects of extreme weather events like drought or wildfire.

Individual characteristics and social and economic factors can make people more likely to experience the first and worst impacts of extreme weather events and a changing climate. Certain people will be more at risk due to age, ethnicity, gender, and existing medical challenges. Groups of people will have a harder time adapting due to employment and housing considerations, financial instability, and weaker social networks.

For example, preexisting health conditions (e.g., asthma, allergies) can be exacerbated by climate impacts such as wildfire smoke or heat. From 2016 to 2018, chronic disease ranked among the top 10 causes of death in Clark County.

Understanding who may be most vulnerable to climate impacts can help us identify where to prioritize resources as we prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Person experiences heat wave

Climate Vulnerability

Increasing Extreme Heat Days

Nevada is already heating up, and it will continue warming as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas emissions. The number of excessively warm days in Clark County and back-to-back days of extreme heat are both expected to increase. The number of days over 115 °F in Clark County could increase 10x by the end of the century. Cities like Las Vegas have urban heat islands, where heat is retained in developed areas because of the energy being used and infrastructure. Between 1970 and 2018, Las Vegas was the fastest warming city in the country,  

Extreme heat will impact human health, especially for people who have chronic conditions or who work outdoors. Increased weather extremes in Clark County, particularly heat, are already stressing the electricity grid. It will be necessary to upgrade energy infrastructure to withstand higher temperatures and prepare for increased need for cooling in our homes and buildings.

Resources to Beat the Heat in Clark County  

See What Areas Are Most Vulnerable to Extreme Heat  

Climate Vulnerability

Worsening Drought Conditions

Nevada is the driest state in the nation, and the amount of rain and snowfall is not expected to increase significantly. As snowfall decreases in the mountains and snow melts earlier, our water supply can also be affected. 

Due to climate change, scientists predict that over the next century, there is an 80-90% chance Clark County will experience: 

  • Another drought that lasts over a decade;
  • “Extreme” drought conditions becoming normal;
  • and 30-40 year “megadroughts”.

Natural habitats, including trees and green spaces within our communities, are particularly at risk when water is less available to support vegetation and wildlife. Infrastructure, services, and industries that rely on consistent water supply to function, such as manufacturing, tourism, water treatment and distribution, wastewater infrastructure, rail systems, food systems, and critical health facilities or hospitals, are also vulnerable to increasing drought conditions.

Explore Clark County's Drought Risk 

Flooding occurs on Las Vegas streets

Source: Ken Lund Flickr

Climate Vulnerability

More Intense Flooding

It might seem contradictory that Clark County is experiencing drought and flooding at the same time. However, extreme precipitation events are likely to increase due to climate change.   Storms will become more intense, increasing the volume of runoff water flowing through developed areas. Floods have already begun affecting our community. Between 1970 and 2018, Clark County has experienced more than 12 floods resulting in at least $1 million in property damage. In that same period, 33 lives were lost in 22 separate flash flood events. 

Flood events can cause a range of impacts from disruptions of energy, communications, transportation, and power transmission networks breaks, to damage to homes and businesses, to loss of life. Flooding also has secondary impacts to the community's public health and medical, social, environmental, and economic systems.

Explore Regional Flood Control District's Flood Maps 

Climate Vulnerability

Intensified Wildfires and Smoke Events

Though wildfires do not happen frequently in Clark County, hotter and drier conditions expected could make them more likely. The duration of the wildfire season in Nevada is expected to increase. Fires can change the composition of Clark County woodland, forest, desert, and rangeland habitats, making them more susceptible to invasive species, which can displace native species. Parks and natural spaces with spiritual or cultural significance are located in wildfire hazard zones, as are 9% of Clark County's populated areas. 

Wildfires directly impact the safety and well-being of Clark County residents, but the indirect impacts of local and regional wildfires are also cause for concern. These range from health concerns (particularly for community members with pre-existing health conditions) to disruptions to the tourism industry and Clark County economy.

Explore Clark County's Wildfire Risk 

CVA Takeaways for Businesses

CVA Takeaways for Policymakers and Elected Officials

CVA Takeaways for Organizations and Advocates

CVA Takeaways for Residents

Climate Vulnerability

Solutions and Next Steps

Identifying the systems in Clark County that could be most impacted by the worsening impacts of climate change is the first step towards addressing these vulnerabilities. The results of the CVA study helped Clark County identify the highest priority climate actions that will reduce emissions and increase resilience for its communities. 

Interested in how you can use the CVA? Read the audience-specific factsheets below. 

Business | Organizations and Advocates | Residents | Policymakers