Climate in Sacramento / City Leaders

This page is about how Sacramento’s city leaders are dealing with the changing climate.

1 City of Sacramento might have climate leadership.

1.1 City of Sacramento declares a Climate Emergency.

1.2 City of Sacramento gets a climate grade of “C plus.”

2 Sacramento’s Climate Plans, Policies & Projects

2.1 Sacramento requires solar on new buildings.

2.2 Sacramento has a climate plan for city operations.

2.3 Has Sacramento’s 2015 Climate Action Plan failed?

1. City of Sacramento might be showing leadership in solving climate change.

This is the logo of the City of Sacramento. Artwork.

1.1 City of Sacramento declares a Climate Emergency.

The City of Sacramento had gotten started on climate back in 2012, but hasn’t stood out as a leader in reducing its carbon output. So, in December 2019, protesters (see Section 5. below) got the Sacramento City Council to declare a “Climate Emergency.” The City’s recognition of The Climate Emergency raises expectations and gives residents something tangible with which to hold their city accountable.

1.2 City of Sacramento gets a climate grade of “C plus.”

A letter grade for evaluating the  City's climate performance with a short list of criteria. Graphic.

The City’s climate plans themselves look to be comprehensive. Climate change strategies cover just about every aspect of City operations. Each City department has prescribed ways to reach its carbon-reduction goals.

Transparency may be a problem with City of Sacramento’s climate efforts – there’s no easily accessible record of what progress, if any, the City has been making. People in Sacramento want to see that their City is acting quickly to cut carbon and adapt to the climate.

The City of Sacramento has had its Climate Action Plans for several years now. If things are going as expected, the City would be Making Progress or is Ready and Working on climate – a “C” or “B” grade. Local climate activists will want to find out if the City deserves this good a grade.

2. City of Sacramento’s climate plans, policies, and projects

2.1 Sacramento requires new buildings to make their own solar electricity.

Indeed, only 15% of a new building’s electricity needs to be generated from the on-site solar panels. But it’s a start. Having the basic equipment for making solar, building owners can always add on more generating and battery capacity. What’s hopeful is that SMUD, the local electric utility, will phase out its carbon-fire electricity and provide only climate-neutral electricity to its customers. For now, the 15% requirement will reduce the electric company’s generating load, and put a bit less carbon in the air.

City site: cityofsacramento.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/Public-Works/Electric-Vehicles/EVStrategy_171212_FINAL_CityOfSacramento.pdf?la=en

2.2 Sacramento is using an internal climate plan to decarbonizing the City’s operations.

Cover page of a City climate action plan. Graphic.

Sacramento’s Climate Action Plan for Internal Operations (2016) builds on progress from past municipal energy work, like building retrofits, solar photovoltaic installations, streetlight conversions, and water management. Strategies in this plan aim for big reductions of municipal carbon emissions by the 2040s.

Sacramento residents: Are people keeping track of this? Where’s a recent progress report for this plan? Is the City of Sacramento actually cutting back on its own carbon? How much? Is that a significant enough amount toward reaching stated carbon reduction targets?” – LocalClimate.org

City site: cityofsacramento.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/PublicWorks/Facilities/CityOfSacramento_1606_ClimateActionPlan_InternalOps_FINAL.pdf?la=en

2.3 Sacramento’s 2015 Climate Action Plan “General Plan Appendix B” has great potential for cutting carbon. Progress? Unknown.

Cover page of the appendix of a City general plan. Graphic.

In 2015, Sacramentans got their City Council to approve “Appendix B – General Plan Climate Action Plan Policies and Programs.” The carbon-reducing strategies in Appendix B are extensive – they cover all sectors of Sacramento’s economy. These strategies promote things like densified land-use and expanded mass-transit lines. Pedestrian and bicycle paths are prioritized. One innovative strategy requires landlords to make their rental units more energy-efficient. The plan even covers leaf-blowers. Buildings will be required to make outside electric outlets available for electric leaf-blowers (gas-powered leaf-blowers spew an amazing amount of climate-damaging carbon).

People in Sacramento: It’s been five years (in 2020) since Sacramento’s Climate Action Plan went live. Are City leaders reporting any progress? Is the City of Sacramento on a track toward significant carbon reduction by the 2030s or 40s? What can City leaders do to speed things up? -Ed

City site: CityofSacramento.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/CDD/Planning/General-Plan/2035-GP/Appendix-B—General-Plan-Climate-Action-Plan-Policies-and-Programs.pdf?la=en