County on Track to Meet 2020 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target


San Diego County is on track to meet 2020 greenhouse gas reduction targets through actions including reducing water use, planting thousands of local trees and acquiring open and agricultural space, the County’s first Climate Action Plan update reported this week.

The Climate Action Plan 2018 Annual Monitoring Report, which can be found on the County’s Climate Action Plan websitestates that the County cut 103,643 metric tons of carbon dioxide between 2014 and 2018. That equals 78% of the 132,205 metric-ton target the County intends to meet by 2020. Metric tons of carbon dioxide are the standard used to measure greenhouse gas emissions. The County conducted its first inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 and uses the 2014 inventory as its baseline for measuring success.

The County’s Board of Supervisors approved the Climate Action Plan in February 2018. The plan was designed to shrink greenhouse gas emissions in the County’s unincorporated communities and County facilities through 26 enforceable, achievable, quantifiable measures. The measures were built around increasing water efficiency, decreasing air pollution and waste, conserving agricultural and open space, and improving access to sustainable transportation such as electric vehicles.

The plan’s environmental impact report is being challenged in court. However, the report states, with the physical effects of climate change becoming increasingly evident, the County is continuing to implement the plan’s strategies and measures to cut greenhouse gases and meet state targets.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • The County’s Planning & Development Services department (PDS) has waived fees for and issued solar rooftop permits for 38,510 homes since the baseline year of 2014, 74% of the 2020 target of 52,273 homes. In 2018, PDS issued 5,871 residential solar permits online.
  • The County generated 6,083 megawatts of solar power at County-owned facilities in 2018, enough electricity to power 515 average U.S. homes for a year.
  • The County has helped install 7,318 discounted rain barrels to cut residential water consumption, working with the nonprofit Solana Center. Conserving water cuts greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of energy it takes to pump and treat water.
  • Through 2018, the County has planted 13,930 trees, just 70 trees short of 2020’s 14,000 target.
  • The County has cut energy use at its 430 County-owned facilities by 20%, exceeding 2020 goals; and cut the fuel emissions from the County’s fleet of nearly 4,000 vehicles by 11%, also exceeding the 2020 10% goal.
  • Through 2018, the County has acquired 3,628 acres of conservation land, exceeding the 2020 target of 2,622 acres.

County officials said the Climate Action Plan’s greenhouse gas reduction actions build off of efforts already in place and create new opportunities to meet sustainability goals while considering the unincorporated County’s suburban, semi-rural and rural character.

The plan was created with input from residents and more than 50 diverse environmental, business, and community stakeholder groups, collected by the County in more than 100 public workshops, meetings and events.

For more information, go to the County Climate Action Plan website.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact