Climate in Coachella / City Leaders

This page is about what local elected officials are doing about the changing climate in the Coachella Valley.

1. Coachellan cities lack climate leadership.

1.1 Coachellan cities get a climate grade of D.

1.2 Coachellan city leaders are sitting on their plans.

1. Coachellan cities lack climate leadership.

1.1 Coachella Valley gets a D minus in climate.

A letter grade for localclimate.org's evaluation of a city's climate performance with a short list of criteria. Graphic.

As an aware resident of the Coachella Valley, you could be wondering, “What is my town doing about climate change?”

LocalClimate.org gives the cities of Coachellan Valley a letter grade so people can check their local government’s progress on climate. Coachella Valley’s D minus grade evaluates the Valley’s nine small cities as a group. It measures the cities’ level of progress on a continuum from no climate planning activity at all, to a well-executed policy/project mix that

1) prepares public infrastructure to adapt to the new climate.

2) switches City assets to carbon-neutral electricity.

3) makes it easy for businesses and residents to get clean electricity and electric vehicles.

In 2020, Coachella Valley’s D minus climate grade indicates the metro municipalities’ level of climate action. The quality of the Valley’s city climate work can be measured when climate efforts have actually begun.

1.2 Coachellan city leaders are sitting on expensive, never-used climate action plans.

Eight of nine cities in the Coachella Valley stopped planning for climate change back in the earle 2010s. List of the nine cities of the Coachella Valley showing the name of each one's climate plan and its progress. Graphic.

Back in 2009, the Coachella Council of Governments outsourced the climate planning process of nine cities to an outside consultant. Carbon-copy plans were produced [pun, yes] – and little has occurred since. The City of Palm Desert got a good start and approved a Climate Action Plan in 2010. Then, over the next 11 years, it did nothing to act on it’s plan. The cities of Desert Hot Springs and La Quinta stopped planning when their city councils failed to approve early climate planning efforts.

The State of California requires towns and cities to have (but not necessarily to act upon) a current Climate Action Plan. A Climate Action Plan at minimum includes a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and a plan for eliminating municipal and other sectors’ carbon pollution. But standard planning practice calls for ongoing monitoring and improvement via regularly scheduled progress reports. No Coachella Valley city has done this.

This the cover page of the Draft City of Indio Climate Action Plan, published in May 2019. This is why the Coachella Valley as a whole gets a D- instead of an F.

Good news: One city amongst the nine, fast-growing Indio (nearing 100,000 people – the largest of Coachellan cities), reactivated it’s climate planning process in 2019.

Also, now in its early stages (January 2020), a new “Eastern Coachella Valley Climate Resilience Plan” could guide the City of Coachella to adapt to the changing local climate. Coachella and the Coachella Valley Association of Governments got an initial $170,000 from the State of California to begin planning.

Coachella Valley cities are not planning much to adapt to the changing climate, but some of them are going straight ahead on preventing more damage to the atmosphere. Climate-friendly electricity (mostly solar) is already powering municipal facilities throughout the Valley (see Climate in Coachella • Local Energy) independent of climate planning process. The deployment of solar energy is less expensive over time than carbon-fired energy. Localities like Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta have been moving to solar electricity – simply as budget-minded, regularly scheduled capital improvement projects. In this mode, some Coachellan cities may be doing better on climate than expected.

Coachella Valley residents: Will Indio’s new planning efforts be outsourced and end up on a shelf, as it had been in previous Coachella Valley planning attempts? Can people in Coachella Valley keep track their cities’ climate initiatives, over time, and hold local leadership accountable? – LocalClimate.org

Local newspaper: DesertSun.com/story/news/environment/2015/07/03/valleys-progress-climate-goals-still-far-clear/29653201/

City sites: LocalClimate.org reviews all nine cities’ climate action plans and any news on policies, programs, or projects that would indicate progress on climate at the municipal level.

City sites: Indio2040.org and Coachella.org/Home/Components/News/News/2462/18?arch=1