Piedmont’s CAP: What does it do? What actions can we take?

Piedmont's Climate Action Plan

The Piedmont Climate Action Plan can be read here.

A Climate Action Plan is a roadmap for a community that outlines actions and steps to reaching a certain set of climate standards. It details climate related challenges as well as possible solutions to overcoming those challenges.

The initial Piedmont Climate Action Plan (CAP) was adopted by City Council in 2010 and an updated CAP 2.0 was adopted in 2018. The actions outlined in these plans help guide municipal, individual and community activities. It also helps the City focus on certain ordinances and activities that will make a bigger difference for the community.

Projected Emissions if Business as Usual proceeds

Business as Usual
: The above figure, found in the CAP, shows the percentage of emissions stemming from each sector in Piedmont. Notice that natural gas usage and gasoline powered vehicles are of particular importance. The CAP breaks down sectors and explains goals for each in more detail. The expected improvements to gasoline VMT is largely due to improving fuel efficiencies.

Purpose

Piedmont’s climate goals include reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. These goals are calculated compared to Piedmont’s 2005 emissions.

More GHG emissions can lead to more climate related disasters such as fires, drought and flooding. California has struggled with natural disasters this year, especially fire. Several fires have broken records, and it is likely that fires will continue to grow larger and more dangerous in years to come. Piedmont is susceptible to some of these hazards, especially fires, landslides, extreme heat, and heavy rains and winds.

More information about potential hazards and Piedmont’s response to them can be found in the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which explains how climate change is related to each of these events. Reducing emissions is one way that Piedmont can work towards a future with fewer natural disasters, as GHG emissions are directly linked to these events.

CAP 2.0 Objectives

The CAP is broken down into different sections, and each section has overarching objectives (see below for the 7 overarching areas). There are also useful summaries which help explain why certain actions are chosen and what kind of impact it will have.
An overview of Piedmont's objectives

These objectives help to guide municipal decision-making and help City staff implement the overall plan.

Households and municipal activities are the two sectors that can make the biggest difference on climate action. Business actions make less of a difference than households, mainly because there are about 4,000 households and fewer than 50 businesses functioning in Piedmont. While the CAP sets goals and actions for municipal activities, this page will focus mainly on residential activities.

What actions make a difference?

The top 3 actions you can take to reduce GHG in Piedmont

1. Improve your home’s energy efficiency and electrify your appliances

An induction stovetop doesn't emit GHG in Piedmont

Insulate and improve energy efficiency: Piedmont homes are larger than average Bay Area homes and generally use three times as much natural gas as other homes in PG&E’s territory. Natural gas is one of the leading causes of emissions in Piedmont. Basic home improvements like better insulation and fixing duct leaks can reduce the energy needed to heat your home. A good first step to improve your energy efficiency at home is to determine which parts of your home can be upgraded with better insulation and/or more energy efficient appliances. Contact BayREN to schedule a free consultation with an energy advisor.

Switch to Electric Appliances: Improving energy efficiency extends to appliances. Many appliances in Piedmont run on natural gas including heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers, and cooktops. All of these appliances can instead run on electricity, which for most utility customers in Piedmont, is generated by wind and solar. Switching to electric appliances reduces your natural gas usage, and therefore your greenhouse gas emissions.

Install a Solar Energy System: Solar energy uses the carbon-free energy from the sun to power your home. Pairing solar with electric appliances means your home will cut emissions stemming from natural gas usage.

2. Drive Electric, Use Public Transit, Walk, or Bike

Gasoline powered vehicles are a main source of emissions in Piedmont. Eliminating driving will lead to fewer emissions. Alternatives include making fewer trips, using public transit such as bus lines, using a bicycle, walking, carpooling, or investing in electric vehicles. City staff is working to make streets more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists with the Safer Streets initiative and the work being done by the PBAC.

3. Reduce Consumption

Consumption includes food, goods, packaging, services and travel. Cutting back on air travel and purchases will reduce your carbon footprint.
Reducing general consumption will make a difference in both Piedmont and outside of the City.

Progress in emissions

The above figure shows sources of emissions in Piedmont over time. Natural gas in households (blue bar) is a source that needs to be reduced significantly if Piedmont is going to reach its climate goals. The 2030 goal is 30,000 CO2e (MT).

Emissions over time in Piedmont
As noted in the bar graph above, GHG emissions have been continuously decreasing, but more action is needed. Many of these shifts are due to variables outside of Piedmont’s control, such as state mandated improving fuel efficiencies in cars, warmer winters, or a state-mandated shift in electricity sourcing from fossil fuels to renewables. To achieve the goals set forth in the CAP and to avoid the worst effects of a changing climate, Piedmont community members will need to take meaningful actions.

Are there emissions that are not counted in Piedmont’s GHG inventories?

The CAP uses a standardized method of GHG tracking that is consistent with and comparable to other cities around the globe. However, this only looks at in-boundary emissions. Essentially, any greenhouse gas emitting activity that takes place outside of Piedmont does not factor into our GHG total. This means that when residents purchase a product in Piedmont that was manufactured elsewhere, the manufacturing process is not reflected in the inventory. Methane that is released during the fracking process and transport of natural gas is not included in the in-boundary inventory.

The main actions that are not counted in our inventory include:

  • Food
  • Goods
  • Services
In and out of bounds consumption

The graphic above is an estimate of the total emissions associated with the Piedmont community’s consumption. It shows that consumption-based emissions are over seven times greater than the emissions reflected in the inventory. The chart below shows some of the activities that make up the consumption by Piedmont community members.
Consumption outside of Piedmont
So, while the actions outlined on this page are very important for reducing emissions, please also take time to look at the actions you take outside of Piedmont, as well as the goods you consume.
As the figure above shows, some of the actions you can take outside of Piedmont include

  • Reducing air travel
  • Reducing miles driven in your gas powered personal vehicle
  • Reducing your consumption of greenhouse gas emitting foods and services
  • Choosing products such as “home furnishings” carefully

How does Piedmont’s CAP relate to other plans and goals?

The State of California has the fifth largest economy in the world and is home to almost 40 million people. There are numerous goals and objectives that the state is trying to meet, and some of these are outlined below. City staff consistently work to ensure that the City is in compliance with statewide regulations. Examples include Senate Bill 2 and SB 1383.

2030 California goals include:
  • Achieving 50% renewable electricity
  • Achieving 50% reduction in Petroleum vehicle use
  • Double energy efficiency savings at existing buildings
  • Carbon sequestration in the land base

“Pavley regulations” set GHG reductions for passenger vehicles. These regulations have been built on since they were first introduced in 2009, and now focus largely on helping electric vehicles become more dominant. Transportation remains California’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The California Energy Commission develops programs and guidelines for existing buildings in their “Building Energy Efficiency Standards”, which is detailed in Title 24.

California has also passed numerous executive orders from the governor’s office, which cover topics ranging from Electric Vehicle adoption to investments. Read through some of them here.


If you have questions about any of the information on this page, please send inquiries to Nate at nredinbo@piedmont.ca.gov