The Yolo County Climate Action Plan represents a significant milestone for Yolo County, which has a long history of being in the forefront of the green movement with land use policies that emphasize growth management, open space preservation and agricultural protection. In 1982, Yolo County adopted an Energy Plan, which was one of the first of its kind. In 1985, the county landfill completed a gas-to-energy facility, which generates 20,000 kilowatt hours per year and captures 90% of methane emissions.
In 2007, Yolo County became one of 12 charter members from throughout the country to sponsor the Cool Counties Initiative, which pledges each county collectively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. That same year, the county organized local cities, special districts and UC Davis to form the Yolo County Climate Change Compact, providing an ongoing forum for exchanging information on how best to analyze and address greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, Yolo County adopted its 2030 General Plan, which contains more than 350 policies that deal with climate change, including the requirement to develop a Climate Action Plan. In addition to implementing General Plan policy, the Climate Action Plan also fulfills the requirements of state legislation, including Assembly Bill 32, Senate Bills 97 and 375, and Executive Order S-3-05.
The Climate Action Plan estimates that in 2008, the unincorporated area (excluding UC Davis, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and special districts) produced 651,470 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, or greenhouse gasses. Approximately 48% of those emissions are created by agriculture. Transportation and energy account for an additional 47%, with the remainder made up by such sectors as the landfill, wastewater treatment, construction, mining and stationary sources.
A target is established in the Climate Action Plan to reduce the 2008 emissions back to the levels estimated for 1990, or 613,651 metric tons. To achieve this target, 15 programs are proposed, including such measures as increasing renewable energy production, enhancing energy and water conservation, expanding alternative transportation, planting trees and reducing fertilizer application. In order to meet the reductions envisioned in the Cool Counties Initiative and state legislation, the Climate Action Plan also includes voluntary goals to reduce greenhouse emissions to 447,965 metric tons by 2030, and 122,730 metric tons by 2050.