Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports for Salem

Trees and field with sun in back.

​Salem is not immune to the impacts of climate change. Everything from the Willamette Valley produce on our table to the North Santiam River water flowing from our taps is susceptible to climate change. Recognizing this, the 2017 Salem Strategic Plan identified a community greenhouse gas inventory as a way to measure the community’s impact on the environment.

Acknowledging the different ways that we add to this global issue, the City has collected information about greenhouse gas emissions in two different ways.

  • Sector-based inventory: Emissions produced in Salem from areas, such as transportation, and residential, commercial, and industrial building and energy sources, including electricity produced elsewhere but used in the city.

  • Consumption-based inventory: Emissions produced around the world due to Salem residents’ consumption of goods and services, including emissions associated with the production, transportation, supply chain, use, and disposal of those products.

The sector-based and consumption-based inventories are not additive, as there are areas of overlap. Instead, they are both pieces of the greenhouse gas emission picture. Emissions from Salem’s consumption-based inventory cannot be directly added to the sector-based inventory because some consumption occurs within the Salem city limits and therefore these emissions would be double-counted.

Data for both methods were gathered for the 2016 calendar year from federal, state, and local sources, including utilities.

The sector-based greenhouse gas inventory report follows a traditional method used for setting goals and tracking emissions within a geographical area, the Salem city limits. It was prepared using the “Global Protocol for Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories” (GPC). The GPC is an internationally-accepted method for sector-based greenhouse gas accounting that covers a range of emissions sources, including transportation, waste production, and energy use. The report provides a snapshot of emissions from Salem’s residents, employees, and visitors undertaken within or originating from Salem city limits. It does not include greenhouse gas emissions related to the consumption of goods within Salem’s city limits that originated elsewhere.


In 2016, the City of Salem’s residents, businesses, employees, and visitors produced over 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This equates to roughly 9.59 metric tons of CO2e per capita. Of the six emissions source categories surveyed, mobile emissions – transportation – made up more than half (53 percent) of the CO2e produced. Electricity generation comprised over one quarter of all emissions, while residential and commercial fuel combustion was the third largest contributor at 16 percent.

​The consumption-based inventory is a less common method that is increasingly being used by local governments to better understand how the choices and behaviors of individuals can impact climate change. It was prepared using methods similar to the Consumption-based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Oregon. The method accounts for greenhouse gas emissions that we indirectly contribute through the purchase of goods or food manufactured in other places and transported to Salem, and from the use and disposal of those items. Specifically, for every good or service used, greenhouse gas emissions may be produced from the production, transportation, wholesale or retail sales, consumer use, and eventual disposal of the purchased item or service. 


In 2016, City of Salem’s residents, businesses, and organizations contributed approximately 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through consumption-based emissions. This means that individual choice and behavior overwhelmingly influence global emissions. The purchase and use of vehicles and parts is the largest source (29 percent) of emissions in the consumption-based inventory, while food and beverages is the second largest at 22 percent.

​What happens next?

The City is in the process of developing a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. The Climate Action Plan will outline strategies and actions Salem can take to reduce emissions and create a thriving, resilient community for decades to come. The sector- and consumption-based greenhouse gas inventories will be used in the planning process to analyze the cost/benefit and emissions reduction potential of select strategies and will help create a dashboard that can be used to track progress on goals.

We are also in the process of updating our Comprehensive Plan, Our Salem, which will guide future growth and development in the City. Both the sector- and consumption-based inventories, and Climate Action Plan strategies, will inform policies about how the City grows, which can have a major impact on our contributions to global emissions.

Contact us

Patricia FarrellParks and Natural Resources Planning ManagerPublic Works Department
555 Liberty ST SE, RM 325
Salem, OR 97301

Eunice KimLong-range Planning ManagerCommunity Development Department
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 305
Salem OR 97301
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