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Climate Action Plan

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Climate Action Plan document

A Climate Action Plan (CAP) serves as a guideline for the City of Tempe’s path to a sustainable and resilient future. It is a detailed framework for measuring and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change impacts. The CAP is a guideline to achieving the largest and most cost-effective solutions in conjunction with other Tempe goals and priorities. Having a CAP is critical to establish and create a sustainable and healthy community for the future residents of Tempe. The CAP helps to develop strategies to conserve resources and make quality of life improvements.

Tempe’s first Climate Action Plan is an opportunity for Tempe to take local action on global climate change. Tempe can be a climate action leader in Arizona by reducing its GHG emissions and adapting to a changing climate. The CAP strives to reduce GHG emissions and create resilience through the three content areas of Transportation, Energy/Energy Efficiency, and Extreme heat through 12 actions.

See the CAP public process.

Guiding Principles

The Climate Action Plan 2021 Update provides guiding principles that will improve upon the actions we are taking as a city with our first Climate Action Plan. We will focus on five guiding principles: Fiscal Responsibility, Enterprise, Equity, Engagement, and Effectiveness
Fiscal Responsibility
  • Prioritize investments that maximize community benefit
  • Provide cost of inaction when possible
  • Consider building the price of carbon into city decision-making


  • Support businesses in prioritizing clean air through investments in clean energy and transportation
  • Inform and incentivize businesses to adopt energy upgrades, sustainable transportation, and green infrastructure practices
  • Incubate and accelerate new businesses that support climate action


  • Consider people and underrepresented groups first in the creation of city programs and policies
  • Practice targeted universalism, which means pursuing policies and program that are targeted at underrepresented groups, but that will create benefits for all of Tempe
  • Build a culture of belonging where all people feel like they can influence the future of Tempe


  • Conduct neighborhood- and school-focused engagements
  • Employ creative gaming and virtual engagement platforms
  • Create a culture of sharing and community support


  • Select evidence-based climate actions known to be effective
  • Monitor the impact of climate actions to ensure they have the desired effect
  • Partner with Arizona State University to support large-scale research and infrastructure to reduce GHG emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change

Baseline Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

In 2015 Tempe municipal government emitted the equivalent of 6,096 homes:


  • 40,670 metric tons of CO2 emissions across the entire system
  • 28,723 metrics tons of CO2 emissions from electricity use



In 2015, the Tempe community, including all residents, businesses and institutions emitted the equivalent of 549,694 homes:


  • 3,667,560 metric tons CO2 emissions across all categories
  • 2,023,229 metric tons CO2 emissions from electricity use


Climate Action Plan Overview

To address these emissions and adapt to a changing climate, Tempe’s Climate Action Plan has two focus areas:

Emissions reduction


Tempe over uses fossil fuels which increase carbon emissions and polluting the air. In collaboration with APS and SRP, Tempe is aiming to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

transportationThe transportation sector contributes to about half of all Tempe’s community GHG emissions.  A citywide management program and the creation of a Transportation Management Association will work to create a 20-minute city, to reduce emissions.


heatClimate change has caused some of the hottest summer temperatures and they will only continue to increase. Tempe needs to prepare, adapt and accommodate for the increase in warm temperatures by adopting green building codes and green infrastructure, both can greatly reduce the urban heat island effect within the city.

Carbon Reduction Actions

Energy Efficiency

In collaboration with the Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service, the City of Tempe is aiming to shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. Tempe can support the clean energy economy through supporting business investment in energy upgrades, solar car charging, and clean energy with storage in the buildings that need it most. The following actions will support Tempe’s efforts to lower carbon emissions created by energy use:

635323967996830000Resilient Energy Hubs: Resilience hubs are fire stations, community centers, schools and churches that are outfitted with solar panels and battery storage. In the event of an emergency that compromises the electrical grid, resilience hubs will ensure that first responders and evacuees have access to electricity.

IMG_7807Revolving fund: An energy upgrades revolving fund begins with an initial pot of money which is used to give out loans for energy efficiency upgrades. The could initially be made available to early adopters, including mom & pop stores and schools interested in saving money by reducing their energy use.


IMG_0603Sustainability platform: The City of Tempe, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce (CoC), Local First (LF), Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA), the utilities (SRP & APS) and other interested parties could create a website providing information to businesses on energy efficiency programs.


Solar Electric Vehicles: A major barrier to putting more solar energy on the grid is that most electricity from solar is generated during the day but most electricity is consumed in the late afternoon and evening. Tempe businesses can pilot electric vehicle (EV) charging in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP) between the city, businesses and the utilities.



The transportation sector contributes to about half of all of Tempe’s community greenhouse gas emissions. The city made major investments in transit and bicycle infrastructure. There is a need for additional programs and policies that support the streetcar, light rail, regional bus service,  and our Orbit bus system. The following actions can support Tempe in lower our carbon emissions and making sure residents have transportation options:

Transportation kidsTransportation Demand Management Program: The city, in partnership with regional/local agencies and area employers, will create a Transportation Management Association (TMA) that will oversee the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program. This program will allow Tempe employees to work together to utilize alternative transportation methods to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.

IMG_0590Prioritize alternative transportation in projects: The city will increase the number of trips taken by walking, biking or riding transit will improve the per person carrying capacity of our transportation system and reduce our carbon footprint.


EV chargingElectric vehicle charging: The city will increase the use of electric vehicles and will triple the number of public charging stations by 2022. It will also make amends to building codes to make new buildings “charging station-ready.”


JGM solar ribbon cutting mayor_2017-03-24 11.45.10

Tempe and ASU researchers will develop a new mobility readiness guide. The readiness guide will provide a comprehensive review of Tempe policies and codes that may help or hinder the adoption of AVs in a way that improves mobility, safety and reduces the carbon footprint of the transportation system.

Resilience Actions

Extreme Heat

Climate change has caused Tempe to see some of the hottest days ever recorded. Public health, economic and environmental systems are at risk due to extreme heat measure in the city. Tempe needs to prepare, adapt and accommodate for the increase in extreme temperatures. Here are some of the action Tempe will work on to address extreme heat:

adp_imzg11Green infrastructure: Tempe can save water and keep our city cool by building landscapes that uses stormwater as the primary way to water  vegetation. City Council can adopt design standards and policies to ensure that all city infrastructure projects and private developments use stormwater. 


Transportation CenterIGCC: Tempe is considering adopting the International Green Construction Code to encourage sustainable construction methods and materials, there is an opportunity to use the adoption of this new code to work with local architects and developers to collaborate on additional ways to increase shade and support the use of cool materials.


cool and green pathUrban Forestry Master Plan: The city will soon have an urban forester to support increasing the city’s tree canopy. The city can continue to increase these programs by increasing staff, funding for trees, and by finding resources to improve irrigation through efficient irrigation technology, green infrastructure improvements, and greywater systems.


tempe beach solarEmergency Management Program: A resilience plan for extreme heat could ensure that first responders and residents prepare for extreme heat days and that the city is building infrastructure that keeps residents cool.