Climate Action Plan - Measure T-4.1

Establish a Local Direct
Investment Program

To meet the 2030 target, the County will establish a local direct investment program to fund and implement local projects to reduce carbon emissions within the unincorporated county and yield a reduction of 176,614 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
  • 2020 Target: Establish a local direct investment program
  • 2030 Target: Fund, implement, register, and verify direct investment projects to achieve a reduction of 176,614 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent

Where are we going?

This measure provides the County with an adaptive management tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the established 2030 target. The County will develop the local direct investment program by 2020, then commit funding to the development of a variety of direct investment projects (e.g. reforestation, sustainable agricultural land management, energy efficiency or similar) and register the projects with a qualified and recognized greenhouse gas (GHG) registry such as the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) Greenhouse Gas Reduction Exchange (GHG Rx), using protocols approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), such as GHG Rx, Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard, and/or American Carbon Standard. The County will monitor GHG emissions reductions toward the 2030 target and will reevaluate reductions needed after 2030.

How is this measured?

The County will fund, implement, and register direct investment projects with a GHG registry. The San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD), or a third-party verifier, will verify the emissions reductions from the County’s direct investment projects in accordance with the governing protocols established for carbon offset projects. The verifying entity will ensure that the County’s direct investment projects have retired the specified amount of GHG emissions. Credits will be retired by the County in perpetuity and will not be available for purchase by third parties.
The County will only register GHG projects that yield a surplus of GHG emissions reductions (i.e., GHG reductions beyond what are projected to occur under the business-as-usual scenario and not otherwise mandated by climate action regulations). Potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions for the local direct investment program are derived from five main sectors: agriculture, energy efficiency and production, land use management, landfill/waste management, and transportation.

Why is this important?

The local direct investment program will provide flexibility for the County in reducing GHG emissions and is therefore an adaptable way to reach the 2030 reduction target. The program provides the ability to take advantage of technology as it becomes available and other developments that were not available during the time the CAP was being prepared and adopted in February 2018. For example, sustainable agricultural land management reduces greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon in the atmosphere and storing it in the soil, also called carbon sequestration. In September 2018, the California Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Merced County developed the TerraCount tool to calculate greenhouse gas reductions for planning land use management activities. As such tools become more readily available, the County will take advantage of these resources and technologies to develop and advance direct investment programs.
By directly investing in projects within the county, the County can achieve GHG reductions and provide local co-benefits such as improved air quality, improved public health, water and energy savings, protection of biological resources, carbon sequestration, and cost savings.