City of El Cerrito Climate Action Plan

by Carla Hansen

The City of El Cerrito developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) due to the concerns that global and local effects of climate change will have an impact on our community and its way of life. In 2011, the City Council passed a resolution that set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2035 for emissions created by various activities within the community and City operations. The CAP serves as a road map to how the community can achieve these targets. The goals of the CAP include:

  • Provide guidance for the City in pursuing reductions in GHG emissions
  • Provide a policy framework for incorporation for a climate or sustainability element into the City’s upcoming General Plan Update
  • Inspire residents, businesses and employees within the City to participate in reducing GHG emissions
  • Demonstrate El Cerrito’s commitment to helping the State and Bay Area reach their mandated GHG reduction goals

The CAP includes an inventory of the level greenhouse gas emissions being produced from transportation, energy consumption (electricity and natural gas), water use and waste generation throughout the community. This inventory becomes the baseline level of emissions that the City hopes to get below.

Our community emitted, 147,094 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e-a unit of measurement to describe how much global warming a given type of greenhouse gas may cause). To put this into perspective, the Chevron refinery in Richmond emitted 275,650 tons of CO2e in 2004 (according to carma. org). Most of the emissions came from automobiles (51%) and residential and business electricity and natural gas consumption (44%). According to the CAP, the community and the City could reach its emission reductions targets, “if all households took such actions as insulating the attic, converting to Energy Star appliances, driving 19 miles less per week per household member and actively participating in the City’s recycling and composting programs.”

Because El Cerrito is predominantly residential, there isn’t any one action the community or the City can take to greatly reduce emissions. It will take many little actions by all residents. The CAP outlines potential actions that residents and the City should take to reduce carbon emissions in the future. The City Council, with input from the public, can adopt the plan and embark on these actions to achieve its emission reduction targets.

Suggested Actions:

Sustainable Community

  • Encourage higher density Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and in fill development on transportation corridors
  • Diversify the City’s economy to increase the City’s job base and encourage more pedestrian-friendly economic activities
  • Invest in pedestrian, bicycle and transit-friendly infrastructure
  • Increase and enhance green and open space
  • Develop alternative transportation outreach and incentive programs

Energy and Water Use

  • Reduce energy and water use in existing buildings by 20%
  • Encourage new construction to build to a higher level of green building and energy efficiency than is required in CA code
  • Reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based energy by increasing renewable energy use in El Cerrito (Community Choice Aggregation)
  • Encourage water conservation and diversity the community’s supply for non-potable uses

Waste Reduction

  • Reduce waste going to landfill to 4,000 tons by 2020 and 2,000 tons by 2035
  • Increase participation in curbside waste reduction services in all sectors
  • Expand one-stop waste diversion at El Cerrito recycling center
  • Develop and implement a Zero-Waste Plan

For more detailed information on the how the CAP suggests the community reach these goals, please visit and search for the Climate Action Plan.

The Environmental Quality Committee is hearing public comment on the plan on March 12, at 7:00 p.m.

The Planning Commission is also available for public comment on March 20, 7:30 p.m. Both meetings are at El Cerrito City Hall. If you have new ideas or thoughts on the plan, submit them to the City of El Cerrito by:


Fax: 510-559-7682

Mail: Climate Action Plan, City of El Cerrito, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530

Mayor Lyman answered a few questions regarding the Climate Action Plan when he addressed the Club in February. A formal presentation at an upcoming Club meeting could be made at Club members’ requests.