Oakland Furthers its Climate Leadership with Landmark Equity-based Plan and Carbon Neutrality Target

Date Posted: July 29th, 2020 @ 1:38 PM
Last Updated: July 29th, 2020 @ 2:12 PM
Oakland Aerial Photo

Oakland, CA – On Tuesday the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to adopt the 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan (ECAP), the City’s new 10-year plan for mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis through actions rooted in equity.

Oakland has implemented a range of policies and programs that have reduced the City’s climate emissions more than 23 percent since 2005. In 2018, the City Council adopted a Climate Emergency and Just Transition Resolution stating that the City’s approach to the climate crisis must be rooted in justice: written with deep involvement of the communities most impacted by racial disparities and most at risk from the impacts of the climate crisis.

“The climate crisis is a generational battle for the future or our city and the world. It's one that threatens our economy, our health, and our city's future, with people of color being hit first and worst,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “The Equitable Climate Action Plan is Oakland's strategy to create a future built on justice, equal opportunity, and environmental protection. Our city's commitment to social justice guided the development of the plan, and will guide its implementation over the next decade.”

“The Equitable Climate Action Plan is one of the most ambitious and robust climate action plans in the state – maybe even the country – and we should be proud,” said Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, who chairs the Public Works Committee and is also Chair of East Bay Community Energy. “A plan is only as good as its execution. If we as a city and a community are serious about reducing fossil fuel emissions, we must now dedicate the necessary resources to implement the actions, prioritizing the needs of the most impacted communities.”

Enabling all members of the community to participate, debate, and have real ownership in public dialogue is critical to an equity-driven process. City staff worked with an Equity Facilitator team, co-led by local racial and environmental justice organizations Environmental / Justice Solutions and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, on a year-and-a-half-long community engagement process to guide the Plan. A Neighborhood Leadership Cohort, with residents from each City Council district, helped lead engagement activities, including workshops, social media, “climate equity work days,” an online survey, and town halls. The City Council also established a diverse 13-member ECAP ad hoc Community Advisory Committee, which provided expert and community-based input on the development of the Plan, and assisted City staff with the community engagement process.

In all, more than 2,100 Oaklanders contributed their input into the Plan, as did dozens of technical experts. Engagement was conducted with an eye toward uplifting voices of frontline communities that face the gravest impacts from the climate crisis.

“We are proud to lead the City's Equity Facilitator team for the 2030 ECAP. The ECAP places frontline communities - the Oaklanders who are most impacted by climate change, poor air quality, unemployment, and housing insecurity - at the center of the City's climate strategy,” said Marybelle N. Tobias of Environmental / Justice Solutions and Colin Miller of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, both leaders on the ECAP Equity Facilitator Team. “Increasing opportunities for impacted communities will help reverse racial disparities, remove barriers that prevent people from thriving, and provide resources to ensure climate resilience, good green job pathways, and healthy housing for all.”

“This Equitable Climate Action Plan represents a new way of truly embedding equity in Oakland’s climate change strategy,” City of Oakland Sustainability Manager Daniel Hamilton said. “It lays out an ambitious effort to pursue carbon neutrality while addressing broader social challenges like racial inequity, housing and food insecurity, public health, and workforce development. Climate change demands immediate action, and this ECAP demonstrates that we can significantly lower emissions while also prioritizing our most vulnerable residents.”

Responsive to the community needs and insights drawn from the public engagement process, the 2030 ECAP includes 40 actions across seven sectors (Transportation + Land Use, Buildings, Material Waste + Consumption, Adaptation, Carbon Removal, City Leadership, and the Port of Oakland) that are equitable, ambitious, realistic, and flexible to accommodate technological and other advancements over time.

The new Plan builds on a vision for Oakland that prioritizes good, green job pathways, particularly for those who have historically faced employment barriers; cleaner air, both along busy freeway corridors and inside homes; improved tree canopy coverage, particularly in East Oakland and West Oakland; increased mobility through active and public transit; improved resilience; and increased access to the policymaking process for frontline communities.

To ensure equitable implementation of the ECAP Actions, the City’s Equity Facilitator team created the Racial Equity Impact Assessment and Implementation Guide, in consultation with the City’s Department of Race and Equity. This guide will help City staff to identify and prioritize frontline communities for all ECAP Actions and develop an equitable framework for inclusive community oversight throughout the Plan’s implementation.

Alongside the ECAP, City Council also adopted a carbon neutrality target to formalize Oakland’s commitment to achieving a zero-carbon local economy by 2045. Consistent with the State of California’s carbon neutrality goal, Oakland’s target represents a clear, long-term direction for climate actions, and provides a basis for ensuring that future planning aligns around the Council’s expectations for eliminating local contributions to the climate crisis.

Achieving the carbon neutrality target will require broad and substantial actions, many of which are outlined in the 2030 ECAP: transforming the city’s transportation system, ending the use of natural gas in buildings, diverting virtually all organic material from landfills, and helping transform the aviation and maritime industries to end the use of fossil fuels. Each of these actions will require significant monetary, policy, technology, and behavioral support, and many have challenges remaining. Yet the ECAP, rooted in a strong public process, three years of technical analysis, and a rigorous inventory of new technologies, represents a clear consensus and commitment to the work that lays ahead.

Oakland’s climate strategy is rooted in community partnership. With the ECAP and carbon neutrality target, the City is building on its long history of grassroots community activism and social justice movements to create a more sustainable, vibrant, and equitable city – all while keeping it Oakland.

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Media Contact

Sean Maher

Public Information Officer

smaher@oaklandca.gov

(510) 473-2610 cell