Climate change is a direct threat to Midpen’s mission. Now and into the future, climate change has far-reaching consequences for the Bay Area’s natural environment and all of us who depend on it. Greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels for transportation and energy are changing our climate. As a result, we are seeing warmer temperatures, changes to plant and animal habitat ranges, more intense wildfires, sea level rise, and more frequent droughts and floods. For Midpen this is an opportunity to lead by example and be part of the solution.
Midpen Surpasses Interim Goal for Curbing Carbon Emissions
Our most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows Midpen is making great progress toward our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
Midpen’s Climate Action Plan, finalized in 2018, outlines efforts for meeting our goals to reduce operational emissions 20% by 2022, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050 as compared to our 2016 emissions. To track progress and maintain transparency about what actions we are taking to combat carbon emissions, every two years staff conduct a greenhouse gas inventory.
Our latest inventory shows that emissions in 2020 were 24% below the baseline, surpassing our goal of 20% reductions by 2022. The inventory measures emissions from vehicles, equipment and business travel (26% reduction), employee commutes (38% reduction), facilities (35% reduction) and tenant residences (31% reduction).
These reductions were achieved by fueling diesel equipment and vehicles with renewable diesel, purchasing 100% renewable electricity for most facilities, reducing employee commutes, and offsetting emissions from business air travel.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Midpen adopted a Climate Action Plan in 2018 to minimize the impact our operations as an agency have on the environment. The Climate Action Plan is a roadmap to achieve Midpen’s ambitious, voluntary climate change goal of reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2022, 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Our latest Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report found that Midpen reduced its emissions by 14% from 2016 to 2018, putting us ahead of schedule to reach the first goal.
Midpen has more changes in the works to further reduce emissions, including installing a solar carport system at one field office, upgrading office lighting to LED, and purchasing and using electric vehicles, motorcycles and maintenance equipment wherever possible. It is our hope that by doing the right thing and working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions internally, Midpen can draw attention to this critical issue and inspire others to reduce emissions.
Midpen’s open space lands store millions of tons of carbon in plants and soils — about 20 million tons of carbon, to be exact. Developing that land would release much of that carbon into the atmosphere. By acquiring and preserving open space lands, Midpen keeps that carbon stored in the earth. In addition, in a process called sequestration, plants and soils breathe in more carbon every year, removing it from the atmosphere. Every acre of open space land breathes in on average one ton of carbon every year.
Midpen can manage the land to help it breathe in as much carbon as possible. For example, Midpen is working with the San Mateo Resource Conservation District to increase carbon sequestration in rangelands using techniques like restoration and compost application.
Promoting Resilient Landscapes
Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, some climate change impacts would still be inevitable. Midpen is preparing for those impacts by working with experts and regional partners to understand the vulnerability of habitats, plants and wildlife and identify land management actions we can take now to protect them in the future. Many of the actions that help make the landscape more resilient — able to absorb stress and maintain function in the face of climate change — are things land managers have always known are important. By protecting land from development, providing a system of connected refuges for plants and animals to move and adapt, and restoring ecosystems to minimize other stressors like invasive species and disease, Midpen protects the natural environment now and in the future.
Do Your Part to Fight Climate Change
You can follow our lead and take steps to reduce your own contributions to climate change. Driving less, buying clean energy and consuming less resources and products are some of the most impactful actions you can take. Start today by calculating your carbon footprint and getting customized strategies using UC Berkeley’s Cool Climate Calculator.