DWR's Roadmap to Reaching Carbon Neutrality by 2035


Solar panels produce energy at the Pearblossom Pumping Plant in Pearblossom, California.

Solar panels produce energy at the Pearblossom Pumping Plant in Pearblossom, California.

California’s changing climate is one of the biggest challenges facing the state, resulting in intense weather extremes that negatively affect public safety and our critical water supply. To rise to this challenge, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has updated its Climate Action Plan to take accelerated steps to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.

Recognizing that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by human activities are one of the main drivers of global climate change, DWR has updated Phase 1 of its Climate Action Plan to incorporate more renewable energy and other measures to eliminate its own carbon footprint.

DWR has a solid track record of setting and achieving its GHG reduction goals. In fact, as part of the plan’s previous update, DWR set a goal to reduce its GHG emissions to 60 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2030, which DWR accomplished nine years early.  Similarly, DWR met its first GHG reduction goal – to reduce emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 – five years early in 2015.

To ensure that this progress continues, DWR’s Climate Action Plan Phase 1, also known as the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, was updated this past year to align with legislative changes that were introduced since the plan’s previous update in 2020. The update commits DWR to:

  • Supplying 100 percent of its electricity load with zero-carbon resources and to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2035
  • Increasing efficiency of State Water Project pumps and generators through refurbishment or replacement
  • Investigating renewable energy projects on DWR property

“DWR is currently ahead of the curve with its emissions level goals,” said John Andrew, DWR Deputy Director for Climate Resilience. “The Climate Action Plan Phase 1 update solidifies our commitment to supplying electricity while staying carbon neutral.”

DWR first developed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan in 2012 as the first phase of the Climate Action Plan. Since then, the plan has received two updates, one in 2020 and now 2023. Phase 2 of the plan is the framework for analyzing climate change impacts and Phase 3 evaluates DWR’s vulnerabilities to climate change-associated risks such as wildfire, extreme heat, and sea-level rise.

DWR has received numerous national leadership awards for setting and achieving GHG emissions reduction goals and in 2022 was one of two public agencies to be inducted into the first-ever Climate Leadership Awards Hall of Fame.

For more information regarding the 2023 update to the Climate Action Plan, please visit these resources from DWR: