Net Positive 2050 : Carbon

Greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area, May 2015


The graph shows the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from transportation (diesel and gasoline), electricity, and natural gas consumption in the Bay Area. In the most recent year, the Bay Area is estimated to generate 575 million tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Electricity and natural consumption levels have been estimated for Bay Area from statewide data based on population.

Carbon dioxide is the primary GHG emitted through human-based activities, which include the combustion of fossil fuels for power generation, transportation, and building use. In 2014, on average, main sources that contributed to GHG emissions include electricity (24%), natural gas (25%), and transportation (51%). On a monthly basis, there is a 2% (or less) variation in GHG emissions observed in this combination of electricity, natural gas and transportation, suggesting that there is very little variation in the mix of sources throughout the entire year.

Major drivers toward Net Positive carbon reduction goals:

SSV’s Net Positive Bay Area initiative sets an ambitious goal of sequestering more carbon than produced all by the year 2050, which calls for aggressive changes in power generation and use, transportation, land use, and manufacturing across California. Current policies that are driving this 2050 Net Positive goal include:

  • California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: AB 32 requires California to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050

  • Executive Order B-30-15: The governor established additional GHG reduction targets of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030

  • Sustainable Communities Act: SB 375 supports the State’s climate action goal to reduce GHG emissions through coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable communities. The Sustainable Communities Act sets regional targets for GHG emissions reductions from passenger vehicle use in each region.

  • SB 350 seeks to increase energy efficiency in buildings by 50% and to cut petroleum use by 50% by 2030 among its benchmarks.

Additional changes needed to ensure that 2050 Net Positive goals of sequestering more carbon than produced will be met?

The focus of carbon emissions reduction should be in the power generation, building efficiency, and transportation sectors. In order to reach Net Positive carbon goals of reaching near-zero carbon emissions, switching to renewable and cleaner sources of energy as well as sequestering carbon should be done to complement carbon reduction strategies.

Carbon dioxide produced through electricity generation and vehicle emissions can be sequestered in marshlands, by planting trees or making biochar fertilizer. Large-scale sequestration through carbon capture and storage can be made feasible for power generation facilities.

1) Power Generation:

  • Low-carbon electricity: Increase renewable energy portfolio of wind and solar energy and eliminate carbon-intensive energy sources; phase out energy generation from non-dispatchable fossil resources

  • Energy storage: Increase in adoption and use of large-scale energy storage needs to be tied in with renewable energy to account for the intermittent solar/wind energy availability

  • Biofuels: Increase use of non food crop-based liquid biofuels for transportation and biogas to replace natural gas

  • Micro-grids and net metering efforts: With more renewable energy such as solar on roof tops becoming more commonplace, policy and regulatory changes should support and encourage net metering, distributed energy, and micro grids

2) Transportation:

  • Zero emission and hybrid vehicles: Increase in electric cars and hybrid vehicles to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector

  • Electric vehicles: EVs need to start replacing gasoline cars at a much higher rate

  • Charging stations: Increase EV charging station infrastructure as well as renewable energy capacity to meet the demands of an extensive charging station infrastructure

  • Biofuels: Should be considered as an option for large commercial vehicles that are not electric vehicles

3) Building Efficiency:

  • Energy efficiency: Promote energy-saving appliances in residences and commercial buildings, including fridges, washers and dryers, heaters, furnaces and boilers

  • Weatherization: Insulation and draft proofing material to combat any heat losses


AB 32:

SB 375:

SB 350:

CA Exec. Order B-30-15:

US EPA (Carbon):

Page author:    Padma Mahadevan

Dashboard:    Carbon Emissions

Last update:    May 2015