Oakland: Consumption Inventory Shows True Emissions

The 2016 Oakland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory is among the few in the world that have incorporated the consumption of the city’s goods and services, including upstream elements of resource extraction, processing, manufacturing, and transportation, as well as downstream impacts from waste management, in their carbon footprint. The city created greenhouse gas inventories for the 2005, 2010, and 2013 calendar years with the assistance of academic and NGO partners. By analyzing emissions back to the city’s baseline year of 2005, the inventory makes it easy to compare life-cycle impacts over time.

83% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 supported by the inventory


The baseline (2005) emissions associated with Oakland are 2.9 million metric tons under the traditional inventory methodology, but 8.9 million metric tons using this new consumption approach. Also telling, life-cycle emissions account for up to 65% of the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation, buildings, and waste. While the inventory does not directly reduce emissions, it provides the analysis, quantification, and perspective for city leaders and the public to understand which efforts are the most effective in reducing emissions.

The challenge

In order to reduce CO2 emissions, cities must undertake the challenging task of understanding where these emissions originate. Oakland’s approach of analyzing the entire life-cycle of goods and services consumed within its jurisdiction – not just what happens in Oakland – takes a more holistic look at this challenge and sets the framework for accurate decision-making, helping the city learn how to reduce its global emissions footprint.


2016_ClimateAction_Oakland2Oakland’s consumption-based emissions inventory aims to lay the foundation for the uptake in green technology industries, such as solar generation.

Economic The inventory aims to increase job opportunities in clean and green technology fields, where there are already 7,000 employees.

Environmental The city’s goal is that the consumption-based inventory can help lead to reductions in energy use and waste generation.

Health Significant health benefits will be realized from implementation of the city’s CO2 reduction goals and programs stemming from the inventory, including reductions in black carbon, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants that adversely affect local air quality.

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