Tempe has become the second city in Arizona to adopt a Climate Action Plan, identifying ways to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change.
The Tempe City Council voted unanimously to adopt the plan at its Regular Council Meeting last Thursday night.
The Climate Action Plan (CAP) will create a more sustainable and resilient Tempe by tackling local problems to contribute to global solutions. In 2016, Tempe joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability. Tempe’s first CAP focuses on transportation and energy use because they are the main sources of emissions in our community. In addition to reducing emissions, the city is adapting to the changing climate by make sure we are prepared for extreme heat.
City staff wrote the plan with input from a wide and diverse range of community members, local businesses, and the utilities. It outlines the strategies to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction.
“I want everyone in Arizona and Tempe to know that climate action means collaboration, I am so proud of our collaboration with residents, SRP, APS, ASU, schools, nonprofits and our innovative business community,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “This plan is one milestone in Tempe's journey in taking global action in a way that supports our efforts to make Tempe a great place to live, study and work.”
Tempe’s CAP serves as a road map for how the City prepares for and responds to climate change. The plan is a 60-page document that focuses on the specific activities that the city and the community will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The plan factors in the projected climate changes in Tempe, Tempe’s greenhouse gas emissions and input collected during the public input process.
The CAP details 12 community actions that will aim to decrease carbon emissions and promote resilience to extreme heat. Out of the 12 actions, four are highlighted to indicate that they are especially significant to combating climate change. The four highlighted actions are:
- Resilient energy hubs: Partner with utilities to reduce barriers to adding solar and battery storage to buildings of first response and first refuge.
- Transportation demand management: Create a transportation demand management program to encourage transit and carpool use to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
- Green infrastructure and low impact design standards: Design landscapes that capture stormwater while growing vegetation for shade and urban cooling to promote a more walkable and cooler Tempe.
- International green construction code: Encourage sustainable construction methods and material use.
“I’m proud of my city for recognizing we are in a climate crisis and taking local action, all while protecting the most vulnerable in our community,” said Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby. "The passion and expertise, especially from young people, on view in the dozens of public meetings, was inspiring.”
Tempe partnered with students and researchers at the School of the Future of Innovation and Society with funding from the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes. The City relied heavily on mentorship and support from the City of Flagstaff, Arizona State University's Sustainable Cities Network, and the Urban Sustainability Director's Network to produce its first plan.
Alongside the CAP, Tempe has been taking steps to embed sustainability into municipal operations. One of the city’s measures is to achieve carbon neutrality in municipal operations by 2050, with a strategy of using 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2035. Tempe moved towards carbon neutrality by investing in the Johnny G. Martinez Water Treatment Plant Solar Project. Over 2,000 solar panels at the plant supply 25 percent of the power needed for that facility. This effort helped Tempe to attain 10 percent of municipal electricity from clean sources. Tempe can build upon that success by taking climate action into the community.
“Climate action is a way of doing business that we are adopting in Tempe. Residents have creative ideas on how we can cool our city and reduce emissions from energy and transportation,” said Dr. Braden Kay, Tempe’s Sustainability Director. “Arizona State University, led by Dr. Lauren Withycombe Keeler, created a process for us to think about Tempe's future in a new way. Dr. Keeler, her students and professors from schools around ASU contributed to this plan to set an agenda for how Arizona cities can take action.”
Tempe will begin to work on an update to the CAP throughout 2020 for presentation to the City Council in Fall 2021. Tempe will continue to build upon the actions in the 2019 CAP to achieve our performance measures and goals in an inclusive manner. The CAP 2021 update will be a plan guided by five principles: fiscal responsibility, enterprise, equity and engagement, and effectiveness and evidence.
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