Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Emissions Goal

The City of Charleston continues to experience first-hand the very real impacts of climate change and the sense of urgency required in the response. That’s why, in 2017 Mayor Tecklenburg signed Climate Mayors coalition joining the ongoing commitment of US cities to accelerate climate progress.  

In doing so, Mayor Tecklenburg pledged to demonstrate leadership on climate change and uphold the spirit of the Paris climate agreement by pursuing actions to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions levels by 2050.  The City of Charleston plans to achieve or exceed this emissions reduction goal, relative to our 2002 baseline measures. 

Citywide Emissions Inventories

Buildings produce more than half of Charleston’s emissions - 58% of the citywide total. Transportation runs a close second: our cars, trucks and buses contribute 40% of citywide greenhouse gases. The remaining 2% comes from waste and other industries’ emissions.  Units below are in million metric tons of CO2e (mmt CO2e).

  • 2002 Total- 2.17 mmt CO2
  • 2006 Total- 2.28 mmt CO2
  • 2010 Total- 2.35 mmt CO2e
  • 2018 Total- Coming Soon!
  • 2050 Goal– 0.48 mmt CO2e
  • 2050 Business-as-Usual Projection- 2.94 mmt CO2e

NEW!  Follow progress on emissions reduction activities on FloodStat!

UPDATE!  In January 2020, we embarked on a new Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the year 2018.  The process will take 4-6 months to complete.  The data will be analyzed against previous years, and used to inform our next Climate Action Plan, that will begin summer 2020.

Emissions are tracked within four distinct categories:

  • Buildings includes energy use in residential, commercial, government, and industrial buildings, including water treatment and delivery.
  • Transportation includes emissions from cars, motorcycles, and trucks, but not boats, ships, or rail, whose contributions could not easily be estimated.
  • Waste includes landfill and incinerator emissions from residential, commercial, and government waste picked up by City haulers.
  • Other includes direct emissions from industries that are not fully captured by the above categories.
Citywide emissions per capita 2002, 2006, 2010

Emissions Units

For simplicity, all emissions were converted to the same units so greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, natural gas combustion, vehicle emissions, etc. are all measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mt CO2e).  Using CO2 equivalents for all measurements allows us to easily measure the impact of unrelated activities, such as a comparison of greenhouse gas reductions achieved from increasing fuel efficiency versus composting.  

  • mt CO2e      = metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
  • mmt CO2e  = million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent

Learn more about the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of different greenhouse gases.

City Buildings Lead by Example!

The City has prioritized energy efficiency and taken major steps to reduce emissions and energy use in City facilities.  Learn more!

2006 citywide emissions by sector
Making sense of emissions infographic per Green Plan

2006 Inventory Comparison

Per Capita Emissions comparisons per Green Plan