As part of our commitment to advancing climate action and energy resilience in the Sierra, Sierra Business Council provides greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories to local jurisdictions in the region. We recently completed a GHG inventory update for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) that accounted for emissions in the Tahoe Basin.
In order to aid jurisdictions in the climate planning process, GHG emissions inventories are created to take stock of all emissions from the built environment attributed to a certain town, city, or region. The built environment refers to surroundings (structures, features, and facilities) created for humans, by humans, and to be used for human activities.
Usually, community-wide inventories are broken down by energy, transportation, solid waste, and water and wastewater. The energy sector includes emissions associated with electricity, natural gas, and any other fuels used for heating or cooling; transportation includes emissions from on-road and off-road vehicles, in addition to any air travel or boating activity; solid waste includes emissions coming from the transportation necessary to haul waste to a landfill and the emissions from the landfill itself, relative to the tons of waste being disposed there; and water and wastewater includes any emissions from water supply or wastewater treatment processes.
Using this valuable information, jurisdictions are then able to create climate action plans and next step strategies unique to the types of emissions contributing to their carbon footprint that can help them meet local or state climate goals and targets. Earlier this year, SBC and our partners at Spatial Informatics Group (SIG), were brought in as consultants to provide a Lake Tahoe Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update for TRPA.
TRPA, the bi-state agency governing the Tahoe Basin, established climate action as a priority for the agency. In 2014, the TRPA developed the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Program which set GHG emission reduction goals for the region. This called for a 15% reduction from the baseline (an average of emissions from the 2005 and 2010 GHG inventories) by 2020, a 49% reduction by 2035, and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2045. In order to reach these GHG targets, TRPA has produced GHG inventories at regular intervals to assess progress. In 2020, they decided to update their previous GHG inventory (from the years 2005 and 2010) and develop an inventory for the years 2015 and 2018.
Key findings from the report are as follows:
From 2005 to 2018, GHG emissions from the built environment in the Tahoe Basin decreased by 38.7%, however emissions from 2015 to 2018 increased by 4%, mostly due to the transportation sector. Over the full inventory period, natural gas became the top source of GHG emissions in the Tahoe Basin as a result of older, inefficient homes and buildings. Regardless, the Tahoe region substantially surpassed the 2020 target of 15% GHG emission reduction from the 2005 and 2010 GHG emissions values.
As part of their GHG inventory process, TRPA has included a carbon sequestration analysis, which calculates the carbon stock potential within the natural lands of the Tahoe Basin. Sierra Business Council worked with Spatial Informatics Group and partners from the Forest Carbon Technical Advisory Committee to develop a carbon sequestration inventory methodology. The Tahoe Basin’s forests and meadows, specifically those that are healthy, are a major contributor to the basin’s carbon sequestration potential, yielding a natural climate solution. Overall built environment emissions were then compared to this carbon sequestration potential in a carbon accounting balance.
In the coming years, TRPA, along with its partners, will be exploring the development of new climate actions that address the increasing number of GHG emissions in the Tahoe Basin, advocate for sustainable redevelopment that replaces aging, inefficient infrastructure that remains on sensitive stream and meadow areas, and prioritize important forest and meadow restoration projects.
This past January, I got a text from my trail family asking if I was interested in going on a backpacking trip for 12 days in the Southern Sierra in August. Without hesitation, I said yes. Little did I know how this trip would impact my life, let alone bring perspective to the Sierra Nevada Climate Vulnerability Assessment project I had just joined.
The 2021 fire season has already begun, and with record-breaking scope and damage. As a protective measure to minimize wildfire risk, utility companies that power the Sierra Nevada will be periodically shutting off power to regions and communities experiencing high wind, lightning storms, and other severe weather. NV Energy just announced its first planned outage for the season, starting at 4am on Sunday. Are you ready?
we’d be poor advocates of the region if we failed to acknowledge the history and current role of the original stewards of the Sierra Nevada. From the Maidu to the Miwok, the Niesenan to the Shoshone, the Paiute to the Washoe, and all the other diverse cultures throughout the region, the Indigenous peoples of Sierra Nevada were the original caretakers of this landscape, and they are critical partners that should be respected and involved in this region’s future.
For fear of sounding like a broken record, I will skip over the detailed account of how my fellowship/life is not exactly as I expected it to be, thanks to the pandemic. It’s 2021 but you could also call it December 56th, 2020. It didn’t become a brand new world January 1st, we are still wearing masks, working from home in our sweatpants, and trying to avoid refreshing the news. At the same time, I have been pondering the beauty of my unexpected journey to CivicSpark and SBC.
I entered college knowing I would major in environmental studies. This interest in the environment was the constant in my ever-changing adolescence (and involved many phases, including when I only wore green, yikes!) and it helped direct me when I arrived on campus as one of the 45,000 students at the University of Washington. I started taking environmental classes right off the bat and didn’t have to flounder around, searching for some deep unstoked passion. It was already there.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I have grown up with the luxury of beautiful mountains, trails, rivers, and beaches. I spent most of my free time recreating outdoors and waited for any opportunity to venture to new places. Studying the environment seemed like an extension of the things I love. I could learn about the birds, trees, and rocks that I saw. I could learn about the tides and the rivers that I know. I could become an expert on my home.