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News Release

New Bay Area Vital Signs: Emissions Fall Even as Economy Soars

John Goodwin, 415-778-5262
Randy Rentschler, 415-778-6780

As the Bay Area economy returned solidly to the black from 2010 to 2015 — with the number of jobs rising 18 percent and gross regional product surging 22 percent — data show the region also turned greener, with total greenhouse gas emissions holding steady during this period and per-capita emissions falling by 6 percent. This eco-friendly combination is among dozens of findings on the state of the Bay Area environment released today as part of the regional Vital Signs initiative. Led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), this effort relies on extensive collaboration with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the inter-agency Bay Area Regional Collaborative. Other findings from the newly-released Vital Signs environmental indicators include:

  • Fine particulate concentrations around the Bay Area have fallen by nearly half over the past 15 years, due largely to increasingly strict air quality regulations. The highest concentrations of fine particulates typically are found in Napa, with the lowest recorded in Sebastopol, Gilroy and Concord;
  • San Francisco and Oakland boast the lowest ozone concentrations in the Bay Area, but the largest one-year declines in ozone in 2016 were recorded in the South Bay cities of Los Gatos and Gilroy, and the North Bay cities of Napa and San Rafael;
  • Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties together accounted for two-thirds of the Bay Area’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, with the highest per-capita emission rates found in Contra Costa and Solano counties;
  • The total acreage of San Francisco Bay remained unchanged from 2014 to 2015, indicating that while no significant bay fill projects were conducted, neither were any major bay restoration endeavors completed; and
  • Residents of Marin and Solano counties now account for half of all Bay Area residents living in areas at risk from a one- to two-foot rise in sea level. Cities likely to experience especially significant adverse impacts from a one-foot rise in sea level include Benicia, East Palo Alto, Martinez, San Rafael, Union City and Vallejo.

The Vital Signs website ( provides Bay Area residents an interactive tool for tracking the region’s progress toward reaching key environmental, transportation, land-use, and economic policy goals. Visitors to the website also can learn about historical trends, differences and similarities among various Bay Area communities, and how the nine-county region stacks up with other major U.S. metro areas.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG is the comprehensive regional planning agency and Council of Governments for the region’s nine counties and 101 cities.