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A Bolder and More Ambitious Climate Goal: County of Santa Clara Bumps Up Deadline for Carbon Neutrality to 2030

County previously aimed for 2045; key goals involve electrifying facilities, reducing commutes, switching County fleet to EV

A photo of the cover of the Santa Clara County report: "Roadmap to 2030 Carbon Neutrality for County Operations."

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. – Five years after the County of Santa Clara officially made a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, officials have doubled down on the promise with a renewed vow and achievable pathway to get there by 2030.

The resolution – which originated with the County of Santa Clara Office of Sustainability and Facilities and Fleet Departments – was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. 

“It’s clear that climate change is here, and bold action is necessary within this decade,” said Supervisor Otto Lee. “The County as a climate leader is prepared to take all steps necessary to achieve carbon neutrality 15 years earlier than we initially envisioned. We already see what a warmer world means – wildfires, extreme storms, deadly heatwaves. It’s time to act fast before it gets worse.” 

Carbon neutrality means carbon emissions are reduced to a point where they can be matched by carbon offsets (investment in projects that reduce fossil fuel use such as solar installations) and sequestering carbon (planting and preserving flora that promotes the capturing of atmospheric carbon). 

To get to that point, the County needs to eliminate or significantly decrease emissions in four key sectors: Buildings and facilities, employee commute, vehicle fleet and solid waste. 

For example, the County buildings utilizing the most natural gas, starting with the Valley Medical Center chiller, would be electrified, along with procuring biogas for the existing fuel cells. Commute-related emissions could be further reduced by offering drivers transit subsidies, and additional EV charging stations to encourage employees getting away from gasoline vehicles. The County’s own light-duty fleet would be electrified, as well as medium-heavy duty vehicles as markets and technology allow for electrified vehicles. Waste diversion will be improved, with more recycling and organics collection in all County facilities. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce natural gas use by 50% in County buildings, cut commute emissions by 74% and in the County fleet by 75%, and divert 100% of organic waste. Implementing all the key actions outlined in the Roadmap to 2030 Carbon Neutrality for County Operations will reduce carbon emissions from operations by 81%. 

The carbon sequestration potential of the 52,000 acres of County parklands will be explored to offset any remaining emissions and provide other community and ecosystem benefits including flood protection, water conservation, and improved air and water quality.

Actions would be implemented in a phased approach, depending on funding, available technology, and feasibility over the next eight years. The County is seeking to leverage its own funds with upcoming State and Federal grant opportunities to accomplish the required actions.

“This is a real plan, one that has been carefully analyzed and is truly achievable,” said County Executive James R. Williams. “Ultimately, implementing this plan is a moral imperative given the devastating impacts of climate change.  And as a byproduct, it will save taxpayer dollars over time while reducing air pollution and improving public health. We will of course be exploring all available opportunities for the funding needed to make these strategic investments a reality.”

The County is an established leader in climate action, having been at the forefront of issues such as energy efficiency, renewable power, green and all-electric buildings, fleet electrification, zero waste, agricultural preservation, integrated pest management, and tree planting and preservation. It is estimated that the County reduced greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 18% between 2015 and 2019, and 26% since 2005. Only a handful of other jurisdictions have also pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Supervisor Joe Simitian, who authored California’s landmark renewable energy legislation during his tenure in the State Senate, said County leadership on climate change is critical to encourage more widespread buy-in, and complements efforts at the state and national levels.

“It’s a global issue, and sometimes local governments are reluctant to tackle a challenge that extends beyond their own local boundaries,” Simitian said. “But there are a lot of folks who are going to follow only if there is someone doing something they can follow. And if we aren’t that someone, I don’t know who that someone is going to be.” 


The Office of Sustainability is committed to building a livable, equitable, and resilient community by meeting the needs of current and future generations. The Office seeks to build and maintain a healthy and safe County by reducing climate pollution, adapting to a changing global climate, enhancing natural resources and the environment, fostering a prosperous and just regional economy, and improving community health to ensure all people have equitable opportunities to reach their full potential.


The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multicultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the United States. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

Media contact: Laurel Anderson / Eric Kurhi, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, 408-299-5119, [email protected]