Santa Barbara Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2035

Urgent Need for Action Against Climate Change Prompts City to Set New Goal

City planners Alelia Parenteau (left,) Timmy Bolton, and Rosie Dyste presented an action plan to get to carbon neutrality. The pie charts show the city's emissions history. | Credit: SB City TV 18

The City of Santa Barbara is aiming to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and get to complete carbon neutrality by 2035. “We are in a state of climate emergency,” Timmy Bolton, a city planner, declared on Tuesday, quoting Governor Newsom: “All other issues pale in comparison to the climate-change issue.”

Tackling climate change, Bolton reminded, is especially important in our region: Even though the city’s overall greenhouse-gas emissions dropped by 28 percent between 1990 and 2015, Santa Barbara still sits in one of the fastest-warming counties in the lower 48. The wildfires, drought, and mudslides of recent years have given residents a first taste of what that means in tangible terms.


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The City Council voted to address the urgent need for action on climate change in an update to the city’s Climate Action Plan, originally created in 2012. First steps to addressing this include building community engagement through forums, workshops, and even writing exercises with youth to spread the word and envision a sustainable Santa Barbara, explained Energy and Climate Manager Alelia Parenteau. Climate justice will be “a focal point for this update,” Parenteau said, describing a climate ambassadors program to engage all the Santa Barbara community.

The 15-year goal may prove a heavy lift. Project planner Rosie Dyste characterized it as “aspirational.” Still, all speakers expressed confidence that the city could meet the target — as long as state and federal climate goals (such as Newsom’s recent order to phase out gas-powered car production) provide momentum to push local efforts. “This is the same goal that the city of San Luis Obispo also adopted,” Dyste added. “It’s something we could achieve potentially together.”


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