Climate and Adaptation

Community Development Agency

Video: Drawdown Marin

Drawdown: Marin

Increased carbon dioxide and the impacts of climate change pose a threat to both global systems and the well-being of Marin County residents. Through a commitment  to climate action planning since 2002, the County has been able to reduce emissions to 21% below 1990 levels through 2016, and continues to implement programs to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). This page provided information about the County's actions and policies to achieve GHG reductions, as well as resources for residents and businesses in Marin to learn more and act. 

While we are working hard to mitigate the effects of climate change through our emissions reductions programs, the County is also investigating the impacts of climate change in Marin, as well as opportunities to adapt to these changes. To learn more about the impacts of climate change and sea level rise in Marin County, please visit for more information. 

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Planning Staff:

Dana Armanino, Senior Planner (415) 473-3292


Climate Action Plan

CAP Emissions Inventory Updates
The 2017 Interim Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment provides an overview of the County of Marin's community greenhouse gas emissions through 2015, demonstrating progress towards Climate Action Plan (CAP) goals and illustrating next steps for CAP implementation.

This report, released in April 2017, finds that the unincorporated County continues to make progress towards its community greenhouse gas reduction goals. Through the end of 2015, the County was 20% below 1990 emission levels. The CAP establishes a target of 30% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020.

County of Marin Climate Action Plan
During Earth Week of 2002, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that recognized both the gravity of global warming and the responsibility for local action. In the County's first Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, adopted in 2006, the County set greenhouse gas reductions target of 15% below 1990 levels by 2020 for community and municipal emissions. By 2012, the County had met its community emissions target by reducing emissions to 15% below 1990 levels - eight years ahead of schedule. In November 2014, the Board of Supervisors adopted an updated community emissions target of reducing emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 when it adopted the Climate Action Plan Update 2015.

The full Climate Action Plan 2015 is available here (36 megabit file): County of Marin Climate Action Plan 2015.

Due to the large file sizes of the document, it has also been broken up into chapters:

Climate Action Plan Update 2015 - Drafts & CAP Process Documents

Historical Climate Action Planning Background Reports and Documents

Marin Climate and Energy Partnership

The Marin Climate & Energy Partnership (MCEP) is made up of representatives from all eleven cities and towns in Marin, the County, the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and the Marin General Services Authority (MGSA). MCEP's mission is the reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels to the targets of Marin County and local municipalities, consistent with the standard set by AB32.

Climate Action Plans in Marin's Cities and Towns
All of Marin's cities and towns have either adopted a Climate Action Plan(CAP) or have incorporated Climate Action planning into their General Plan. You can view each city's CAP on the MCEP website.

In addition, some cities and towns in Marin County have specific Climate Change and Sustainability websites. Visit the following links for more information on going green in your community.

Sustainability Tracker
The Interactive Sustainability Tracker, launched in January 2015 by MCEP, illustrates progress being made by local jurisdictions, resident and businesses in Marin County toward reducing emissions and increasing sustainable practices. The Tracker includes twelve metrics gauging a community's level of consumption and implementation of sustainability measures related to energy, waste, transportation, water, and greenhouse gas reductions. The interactive map allows a user to see how a city of town is doing in comparison to other local jurisdictions over time and provides additional information on how each member of the community can take further action to help reduce emissions and meet the State's greenhouse gas reduction targets. The tracker was updated in spring 2017 with the most recent available data.

Marin Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Inventories
In 2017, MCEP developed GHG inventories for all of the cities and towns in Marin County for the year 2014. Marin countywide emissions fell 15% between 2005 (the base year for most cities/towns) and 2014. The result of these inventories can be found at the MCEP Climate Inventories website.

Learning Resources & What You Can Do

Homeowner Toolkit
This 12-page booklet, developed by the County of Marin Sustainability Team, contains everything a new (or existing!) homeowner would want to know when moving into a new home or learning more about the sustainability resources available in Marin County. Information includes how to go solar, available energy efficiency programs and rebates, how to find your waste hauler, water conservation tips, community volunteering opportunities, and more.
View the online PDF below or call to request a hard copy at (415) 473-2698.

Marin Climate and Energy Partnership
In addition to the greenhouse gas inventory and climate action planning activities mentioned above, the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership (MCEP) also provides suggested activities for both residents and businesses that are interested in taking personal action to reduce their contribution to climate change.

Consumption Based Inventory
The County of Marin Climate Action Plan accounts for emissions that are created by our day-to-day activities, such as driving to work, turning on the lights at home, and taking out the trash. But there are other emission-generating parts of our lives that this inventory doesn't account for. The County's is an activity-based inventory, which means it uses information about the activities that occur within our borders, such as miles driven and kilowatt hours used.

Another way to assess local emissions is through a consumption-based inventory. This accounts for activities that are typically outside of jurisdictional control, such as how much and what people purchase. Purchases of clothing, food, airline trips, and other goods and services are not included in the County's climate action plan, because many of the emissions generated in the creation of these goods happen elsewhere, such as at factories or airports outside of the County.

If you are interested in learning more about this measure of emissions, and how your neighborhood compares in this metric, a consumption-based inventory is available for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. This inventory, completed in 2016 by the bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Cool Climate Network at UC Berkeley, is based on a full life-cycle analysis of the emissions generated by the production, shipping, use, and disposal of each product consumed in the Bay Area, regardless of where the GHG emissions were released to the atmosphere.

The following resources are available for Marin County residents to learn more about their consumption-based footprint.

Sustainable Marin
Sustainable Marin is a non-profit organization of volunteers who advocate and educate about sustainability at the County level in Marin. This group provides information and volunteer opportunities for residents looking to learn more about local environmental efforts. Many cities in Marin County also have local chapters, including Sustainable Novato, Sustainable San Rafael, Sustainable Fairfax, and Sustainable San Anselmo.

Resilient Neighborhoods
A project of Sustainable Marin, Resilient Neighborhoods is a 501(C)(3) non-profit that provides free training and meetings to help all Marin residents learn about and lower their carbon footprint. In addition, the program empowers residents to lower their bills, strengthen their communities and prepare for emergencies.
The Program operates as a 5-part series, in which residents learn about specific actions to create cleaner, safer, more sustainable homes and communities. More information can be found at the Resilient Neighborhoods website.

Marin Sustainability Events
The County of Marin Sustainability Team on occasion organizes and attends sustainability related around Marin. Visit out Events Page for information on past and future events.

Climate Kudos

Drawdown & Marin Carbon Project
Marin County resident Paul Hawken is editor of the recently released, critically acclaimed book Drawdown, which maps, measures, and describes the 100 most substantive solution to global warming.
John Wick, co-founder or the Marin Carbon Project, also serves on the Board of Directors for Project Drawdown. The work of Marin Carbon Project, which focuses on carbon-sequestration of grazing and agricultural lands, is featured in the book as important approaches to reducing global emissions.

Resilient Neighborhoods
Resilient Neighborhoods, a project of the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership and the Marin General Services Authority, was awarded a $275,000 Local government Challenge Grant from the California Energy Commission. This grant sought to fund projects that stimulate innovation in building energy efficiency and developing or implementing climate action plans. This funding will allow Resilient Neighborhoods to expand the number of classes it offers and ensure that the program can continue to operate through 2019.

Local Adaptation Projects and Studies

County Vulnerability and Adaptation Planning Efforts

The County currently has a number of sea level rise projects in the works including the Collaboration: Sea-level Marin Adaptation Response Team (C-SMART) project, which will run from March 2014 through April 2016. C-SMART will evaluate the vulnerabilities to sea level rise along Marin County's western coast, define adaptation strategies that will increase that resiliency of the coastal resources there, and share lessons learned with others. Funding is provided by the Ocean Protection Council and the California Coastal Commission. Projects have also been launched along the Bay as well. 

City of San Rafael "Climate Adaptation - Sea Level Rise" White Paper

In January 2014, the City of San Rafael's Community Development Director Paul Jensen prepared a report on potential sea level rise in San Rafael. The paper a) identifies the key agencies that have been involved in studying and planning for sea level rise; b) presents the most current information and studies on sea level rise, particularly in the Bay Area; c) identifies potential funding sources to pursue for next steps; d) summarizes the studies underway in Marin and the North Bay; e) describes techniques and tools that have been developed for adaptation; f) identifies the San Rafael shoreline and levees areas to study, as well as potential opportunity areas for studying adaptation; and g) presents suggestions for next steps in moving forward with preparing a vulnerability assessment and long-term planning for sea-level rise.

Southern Marin Pilot Project

The project, sponsored by Supervisor Sears with support from Marin County Public Works, the Community Development Agency and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, addresses how the climate change impacts of sea level rise will affect the future of Southern Marin communities, infrastructure, ecosystems and economy, and what strategies the County can pursue to reduce and manage these risks. The project area encompasses the Richardson Bay shoreline, from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin treatment plant in Mill Valley to Marin City. One product of this project is a local sea-level rise GIS application that includes NOAA sea-level rise and local infrastructure data.

Marin County Watershed Programs

The Marin County Watershed Program, which is sponsored by the Marin County Department of Public Works provides a framework to integrate flood protection and environmental restoration with public and private partners to protect and enhance Marin's watersheds. The program has several on-going studies in many of Marin's watersheds that include analyses of potential sea level rise impacts.

Adapting to Sea Level Rise Along the North Bay Shoreline

The North Bay Watershed Association (NBWA) funded this study by PRBO Conservation on the shoreline of eastern Marin north to the Petaluma River. The study addressed the ecosystem value of tidal marshes by estimating the amount by which they attenuate incoming waves; analyzed tidal marshes and other sites of interest in the North Bay region by calculating projected marsh composition, wave attenuation, and tidal marsh bird abundance; and produced more detailed vulnerability assessments (including estimates of adaptive capacity) for three case study areas selected as being of high interest to workshop participants: Inner Richardson Bay, Gallinas Creek and Novato Creek. Link to the Full Report.

Innovative Wetland Adaptation Techniques in Lower Corte Madera Creek Watershed

The Innovative Wetland Techniques in Lower Corte Madera Creek Watershed project was one of the first Bay Area projects to examine how to reduce the vulnerability of tidal wetlands to sea level rise. Project partners include the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Marin County Flood Control District, USGS, UNESCO and private consultants.

Adapting to Rising Tides (East Bay - Bay Bridge to San Mateo Bridge)

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the NOAA Coastal Services Center lead this major sub-regional undertaking. Adapting to Rising Tides - the ART Project -   is a collaborative planning effort that is working with Bay Area communities to increase their preparedness and resilience to sea level rise and storm events while protecting critical ecosystem and community services.

The Horizontal Levee

The Bay Institute's groundbreaking study about the economic value of tidal marshes, demonstrates that nature performs critical functions for society. During the era of sea level rise, the marshlands of San Francisco Bay have become a critical adaptation tool. The Horizontal Levee study shows that restoration of San Francisco Bay's tidal marshes is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to protect valuable shoreline development from sea level rise during the next several decades. By using tidal marshes in combination with earthen levees, construction and maintenance costs can be reduced by almost 50%.

Additional Links and Resources

  • Cal-Adapt - Great website that tracks California's climate change research and has excellent interactive mapping tools.
  • California Climate Change Portal -This is the state's general website on climate change including information on current research and resources for individuals, businesses and local governments wanting to take action.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Organization established by the United Nations Environment Programme & World Meteorological Organization in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
  • Sonoma County's Climate Protection Program -A collaboration of public and private partners in Sonoma County working to reach the County's greenhouse reduction targets. 
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District Climate Program - BAAQMD's page on climate protection includes information on their programs and information on their work related to AB32.
  • - a grassroots movement striving for deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The site includes information on how residents can take action and includes an up to date calendar on climate events throughout the Bay Area.