County Exceeds its 2020 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target by 22%


By implementing a variety of programs and initiatives designed to reduce our carbon footprint and protect natural resources, the County reduced 160,743 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) through the end of 2020, exceeding the 2018 Climate Action Plan’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction target by 22%. This is equivalent to reducing the emissions from 18,087,431 gallons of gasoline to fuel vehicles!

These findings and more are detailed in the County’s newly released 2020 Report on Climate Action Plan Progress. The report highlights the County’s implementation efforts and achievements in 2020 supporting the 2018 Climate Action Plan (CAP), which sets forth strategies and measures to reduce GHG emissions over the next 30 years.

Adopted in February 2018, the 2018 CAP includes 11 strategies, 26 measures, and numerous supporting efforts for reducing GHG emissions from the County’s local government operations and from activities within the unincorporated area. Multiple County departments oversee GHG reduction efforts to increase water and energy efficiency, decrease pollution and waste, conserve agricultural and open space land, and improve access to sustainable transportation.

The County has established GHG emissions reduction targets of 132,205 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) by 2020 and 897,145 MTCO2e by 2030.

2020 Action and Progress

Regular monitoring allows the County to track the effectiveness of CAP strategies and measures. Ten CAP Measures contribute to the 2020 GHG emissions reduction target. The remaining 16 measures require the development of programs, plans, or ordinance updates to meet the 2030 target.

The 2020 Report on Climate Action Plan Progress indicates current progress has exceeded milestones across multiple sectors.

2020 Progress

Healthy, energy efficient buildings

Solar panels
  • The County reduced overall energy use by 36%, exceeding the 2020 target by 26 percent.
  • Solar photovoltaic installations at County buildings generated 11,705 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, equivalent to powering 999 homes (with average usage) for one year.
  • All new County facilities are designed to achieve LEED Gold certification or higher and are evaluated to be constructed as zero-net energy (ZNE), which means that they generate as much or more energy as the building consume.

Supporting the transition to electric vehicles

  • Since 2016, 39 EV charging stations have been installed for public use at 11 County facilities.
  • In 2020, the County issued 47 permits for EV charging stations, of which 89% were issued online.

Promoting reduction, reuse, repair, and recycling

  • The County achieved a 60 percent waste diversion rate from landfills in the unincorporated county.
  • Received Board approval to increase diversion of construction debris through updates to the Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Recycling Ordinance.
  • Assisted businesses in adding 303 cubic yards of recycling capacity.
  • Held 17 composting workshops with 526 attendees.
  • Supplied 1,361 recycling bins and 414 compost bins to schools, multi-family residents, and businesses.
  • Collected 696 tires at a recycling event in Jacumba presented in partnership with a local community group.

Conserving our natural habitats, building climate resilience, and preserving agricultural land

Open space
  • Through the Multiple Species Conservation Program, the County has acquired 5,559 acres of open space land since 2014 and placed it into permanent conservation – removing the threat of future development, loss of critical habitat, and reducing emissions that would have occurred if the land were developed.
  • The County’s tree planting program works to maintain and restore a mature stock of trees in County parks. Since 2014, the Department of Parks and Recreation has planted 22,820 trees at County parks and open space preserves, exceeding the target of 3,500 trees per year.
  • The County’s Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement Program promotes the long-term preservation of agricultural land. Through 2020, a total of 1,257 acres of agricultural land have been placed in easements.

Read the 2020 Report on Climate Action Plan Progress to learn more about these and many other County sustainability programs. We are proud of our climate action work that has helped us achieve these accomplishments and the ongoing partnerships we rely on to build sustainability throughout the region. Looking ahead, the County will continue to provide resources and empower local communities to make homes more energy efficient, support cleaner vehicles, improve air quality, increase reuse and recycling, and conserve natural resources and build climate resilience to contribute toward GHG reduction efforts in our community.