Credit: Courtesy City of Santa Barbara

The City of Santa Barbara is currently taking public comments for its 2024 Climate Action Plan, called “Together to Zero,” which outlines short- and long-term actions aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 while “centering equity.” 

It will be an arduous effort, especially if the county — which has repeatedly tripped and scraped its knee in its ambitious sprint to cut carbon emissions by 2030 — is any indication. 

However, the city’s plan espouses an optimistic perspective in addressing our region’s myriad of problems — including South County residents producing about twice as much waste as the average American. And it’s wrapped up in a digestible, color-coded bow. 

As said in the City Council’s introductory letter on page one, its task is “not just about reducing emissions” (which mostly come from cars, by the way). “It is about setting the cornerstones for a resilient, prosperous, and sustainable community that is rooted in social, economic, and environmental justice” — or, simply, “creating a community that can evolve with and adapt to our changing climate.”

The plan will act as the “City’s climate road map” for the next 10 years and is designed to be a living document that will be updated “based on the City’s needs and progress on action items.”

Broadly, initiatives include converting new and existing buildings to all-electric systems; promoting zero-emission transportation; reducing organic waste, landfill space, and the consumption of single-use plastics and other pollutants; increasing the city’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere while prioritizing low-income areas; and creating community partnerships to “spur innovation.”

The plan will act as the “City’s climate road map” for the next 10 years and will build on foundational initiatives, including established clean energy programs. | Credit: Courtesy City of Santa Barbara

Every goal is then broken down into specific actions and their impact, timeline, and cost — from installing more electric vehicle charging stations around the city to banning items without recycling markets to identifying composting opportunities at schools and city departments.

They are not “starting from scratch,” the plan states, but building on foundational initiatives — including established clean energy programs — and driving factors such as the countywide plan and state legislation that set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve statewide carbon neutrality by 2045. 

“We’ve already taken huge steps to reduce our carbon footprint through the city-run Santa Barbara Clean Energy program, which provides our residents and businesses with 100 percent carbon-free electricity,” said Sustainability & Resilience Director Alelia Parenteau. “This updated Climate Action Plan outlines the city’s next steps.”

The Climate Action Plan was developed based on substantial public engagement and more than 10 public meetings as an update to the city’s original 2012 Climate Action Plan. The public comment period for the 2024 Draft Climate Action Plan is open now through Wednesday, April 24. Documents are available for review in both English and Spanish at, and comments are welcome via email at

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