Santa Monica Addresses Climate Crisis with Ambitious Carbon Emission Cuts and Adaptation Measures

May 29, 2019 9:29 AM

SANTA MONICA, CA – Last night, the Santa Monica City Council adopted the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP), the City’s roadmap to achieving an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching community-wide carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner. The CAAP also includes comprehensive plans for adapting to climate change and developing community resilience to more frequent hot days, coastal smog conditions, and impacts from wildfire, and those that are likely to occur in the future, such as sea level rise. This comes as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced earlier this month that global atmospheric carbon reached 415 parts per million surpassing levels not seen in recorded history.   

“The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is the roadmap for Santa Monica’s next decade of environmental leadership,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “This is a practical and ambitious plan to achieve water self-sufficiency by 2023, zero waste by 2030, and carbon-neutrality by 2050 or sooner. Continuing our legacy of local climate action is essential to the health and vitality of our planet, people, and economy. Santa Monicans set the bar for local stewardship of our planet and I’m confident we will continue to do so with this plan to guide us.”

The CAAP is the product of collaboration and engagement with the Santa Monica community, businesses, and climate leaders. The plan includes major investments and simple things everyone can do in their day-to-day lives to make a difference. It advances existing initiatives to enhance community wellbeing, smart city innovation, transportation, public health, and social equity.

The Climate Action section focuses on eight objectives in three sectors:

The Climate Adaptation section focuses on community resilience to climate change through four sectors:

Staff estimate that implementing the plan would cost over $800 million over the next decade, including substantial investments that are already anticipated to achieve other City goals that are consistent with climate action and adaptation goals. To put that in perspective, Council has already approved over $383 million in funding to support climate action and adaptation projects over the past two biennial Capital Improvement Program budget cycles. This includes initiatives to achieve water self-sufficiency, walking and biking infrastructure, and expanding electric vehicle charging. 

“Meeting the climate crisis head on reaches beyond protecting our coastal community and doing the right thing for the planet,” says Dean Kubani, the City of Santa Monica’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “The financial ramifications of doing nothing are catastrophic and credit rating agencies like Moody’s now factor climate resilience when rating a community. Our investments will protect our long-term financial health and ensure our historic AAA bond rating.” 

Realizing the CAAP will require major shifts in our economy, buildings, and transportation structure. For example, transportation and buildings will increasingly shift away from fossil-fuel use and will powered by clean, renewable electricity. Within the past two years, we have seen increasing momentum and changes in the development of autonomous vehicles, ride hailing, energy services, and waste management technologies. These advancements could speed up carbon reduction efforts.   

Council established “Climate Change” as a Framework Priority for the Fiscal Years 2019-21 biennial budget, of which the CAAP is an important component. Additionally, “Mobility and Access” is prioritized, which is important as vehicle transportation contributes the majority of carbon emissions in Santa Monica.

Staff will provide annual progress reports to Council and the community on plan implementation, conduct biannual greenhouse gas emission inventories, and prepare an update to the plan after five years.

For more information about the Climate Action & Adaption Plan, visit


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Constance Farrell
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