Austin City Council approves the 2021 Climate Equity Plan, the city's five-year update outlining the strategies and goals to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions while addressing the disproportionate impacts of the climate emergency on low-income communities and communities of color. The update accelerates the net-zero goal by a decade to 2040 and sets more aggressive interim targets for reducing emissions.
Council Member Alison Alter, who represents District 10, led on the companion resolution to ensure the successful implementation of the 2021 Climate Equity Plan.
"Net-zero is possible, and we must be deliberate in how we get there," said Council Member Alter. "I am proud that Austin has set an aggressive emission reduction goal of 2040 while developing strategies to achieve a just and equitable transition. We are in a climate emergency and must mobilize together to meet the threat."
The implementation resolution outlines the Council's expectations for increased accountability, leadership, transparency, equity, and public engagement in how the City addresses and mitigates the climate emergency.
"The evidence shows that climate change is accelerating at a more rapid pace than expected, and this global crisis is having immediate and devastating impacts on Austinites, especially on our neighbors with the fewest resources," said District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo. "This plan creates an actionable and necessary path toward reducing harmful emissions in our community."
"Low-income and communities of color disproportionately bear the brunt of the impacts from climate change. In District 2, we are reminded of this as we near the anniversary of the Halloween floods in which homes were destroyed and lives were lost," said District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes. "With the passing of the Climate Equity Plan, we're doubling down on environmental justice. And thanks to Council Member Alter's leadership, this resolution solidifies that this equitable approach will be implemented."
"With our Climate Equity Plan update adopted today, and its aggressive timeline to achieve net-zero emissions, I'm pleased we are also adopting this implementation plan to help keep our City accountable and on track with our climate goals," said District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool.
"Our work to address the current climate crisis is urgent. We must create good-paying, union jobs repairing our infrastructure, reducing water and air pollution, cleaning up parks, and more. With this plan, we can save lives from future winter storms, wildfires, and climate disasters," said District 4 Council Member Greg Casar.
The Climate Equity Plan is the result of hundreds of community members coming together to produce the plan over the course of many months, stewarded by city staff and the Austin Climate Equity Plan Steering Committee.
"This plan is important to many people not just because of what is included, but because of how it was created in true collaboration between the City and community," said Katie Coyne, Steering Committee Co-Chair. "What's more, this plan tackles the urgency of both climate action and racial justice with radical but feasible strategies that will ensure we're becoming a more equitable city and doing our part on the global scale to curb our emissions."
"What really excites me is how we have laid the foundation not only for centering racial equity in the Climate Equity Plan, but also for prioritizing equity in future city plans. Dozens of city staff in other departments want to learn from the Climate Equity Plan to improve centering racial equity in their work. The most important lesson learned here is that we will never come close to overcoming climate change without centering racial equity and community leadership—and the City of Austin is beginning to understand that," said Shane Johnson, Steering Committee Co-Chair.
Link to the 2021 Climate Equity Plan: https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=367740
Link to the implementation resolution: https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=368416
Link to the recording of the Climate Equity Plan rally: https://fb.watch/8m0K6z_sEP/