“Lake Tahoe Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update” is released

Spatial Informatics Group played a key role in producing the recently released “Lake Tahoe Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update,” which provides a detailed accounting of GHG emissions in the Tahoe Basin. An updated version of a document originally published in 2013, the report was researched and written by SIG and the Sierra Business Council for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, with funding provided by the California Tahoe Conservancy. 

Monitoring the region’s greenhouse gas emissions provides a way to track progress in meeting climate change goals. The inventory tracks emissions from 2014–2018, noting changes since the 2013 inventory. The report also projects future GHG emissions from 2018 to 2045. 

The report measured emissions in four primary areas: energy use, transportation, solid waste, and wastewater treatment. The process involved measuring emissions changes between the first inventoried year (2005) and the last (2018). The change over time was used to forecast likely future changes.

The study also took into account natural carbon sequestration, an important factor given that the Tahoe region has large undeveloped areas. To quantify sequestration, the study inventoried carbon stored in forests and meadows, the two largest stored carbon repositories in the basin. 

In addition to the scientific research, the report included extensive outreach to stakeholders and the public, including interviews, input from members of a technical advisory group, and consultations with experts who have conducted other local and state inventories.

Key findings of the report include the following: 

  • GHG emissions in the basin decreased substantially from 2005 to 2018 but increased slightly from 2015 to 2018.
  • Between 2015 and 2018, more than half the basin’s emissions were produced by the energy sector (59 percent), followed by transportation (37 percent). Given that these two sectors generated 96 percent of total emissions, they offer by far the largest potential for future reductions.
  • If no further action is taken to continue reducing emissions, overall emissions in the basin are forecast to increase 5.7 percent by 2045.

The report will inform policy objectives related to measuring and reducing GHG emissions, including state laws and policies in California and Nevada, as well as goals adopted by regional and local entities. The findings will help decision-makers prioritize climate mitigation actions and increase the resilience of the Tahoe Basin’s communities, natural environment, and economy.