Watsonville 2030 Climate Action & Adaptation Plan
Cities are on the front lines when it comes to climate change, and thus leading the world in reducing carbon emissions through proactive policies and the adoption of clean technologies. The City of Watsonville is embarking on an important effort for climate action, adaptation, and restoration over the next decade. The 2030 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will chart a clear path to address the risks and challenges Watsonville could face, such as sea-level rise, increased temperatures, heavier and more intense storms, air pollution, increased health problems and increased strain on an already impacted water supply.
The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan Draft (CAAP) is designed to accomplish both a legal target and an aspirational goal. To view the CAAP Draft Executive Summary Click Here.
Legal Target. The CAAP sets in motion a suite of programs that are designed to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% lower than levels in 1990 over the next ten years, meeting a State-mandated legal target.
Climate Safe California Goal. On July 6, 2021, the Watsonville City Council voted unanimously to support the Climate-Safe California Campaign* goal of net-negative emissions by 2030, setting an aspirational goal for the community of Watsonville to remove more GHGs than it emits by 2030. The Council and staff acknowledge that meeting this goal will be challenging. However, bold leadership is necessary to address the existential threat of climate change, and this goal sends a message to the State that its current goals and funding are insufficient to meet the demands of climate change, and must be accelerated.
The City’s goal of net-negative emissions by 2030 recognizes that climate change is an existential threat that must be addressed now.
In order to meet the City’s climate goals, the CAAP includes three types of initiatives:
Climate action refers to actions taken to reduce emissions. Examples include transitioning to low-carbon energy sources, such as solar or wind energy.
Climate adaptation, on the other hand, refers to preparing for the impact climate change is already having on our communities, such as increased droughts, wildfires, and flooding.
Climate restoration consists of goals and actions that draw excess carbon out of the atmosphere and help restore balance to ecological systems, such as tree-planting and regenerative agricultural practices.
Climate Action: Reducing our Emissions
Watsonville’s GHG emissions stem from four main sources:
Transportation: Gas-powered cars and trucks
Natural Gas: Heating our buildings, cooking, hot water
Electricity Use: From non-renewable energy sources such as coal and gas
Food Waste Disposal: Food waste sent to the landfill breaks down and creates methane (a greenhouse gas)
The majority of our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is devoted to defining projects and programs that will reduce our carbon emissions in these four sectors. The table below summarizes these programs:
CAAP Strategies and Programs
|Percent of Solution|
Facilitating Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure
| Electrify City Fleet||4%|
|Active Transportation — More walking and biking Trails||3%|
|Community Trip Reduction||8%|
|Building Electrification — Natural gas phase-out||35%|
|Green Energy and Energy Efficiency||11%|
|Food Waste Program||12%|
Climate adaptation focuses on strategies for energy and agricultural resilience to address issues such as the strain on our electrical grid as a result of increasing temperatures and reduced agricultural productivity and food security due to droughts.
The climate adaptation component builds on the City’s 2020 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP), which outlines plans and programs to prepare for natural disasters for Watsonville and addresses the vulnerability of critical infrastructure through mitigation measures.
Climate Adaptation Measures
|Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP)|
|Agricultural and Food Resilience|
"Climate Change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life."
— Paul Polman
In addition to reducing our emissions, Climate Restoration is a necessary part of addressing climate change. Restoring natural systems facilitates the removal of carbon dioxide from the air, supports clean water and healthy soils and acknowledges that humans are part of a global ecosystem that must be sustained for the survival of humans and many other forms of life.
Carbon sequestration on natural and working lands has been identified as a priority pathway for greenhouse gas reductions.
Reimagining our social and economic systems are also important to avoid practices that lead to climate change. Future CAAP updates will include additional strategies that the City will pursue to advance climate restoration.
Climate Restoration and Sequestriation: Removing CO2 from the Air
|Equitable Green Recovery|
To shape the kind of Watsonville we want to build in the future, it is critical to hear from our community. By better understanding how each sector of the community is being affected, we can better plan and prepare to address these issues. Stakeholder and community engagement was an essential part of the CAAP development process. The City developed a Public Engagement Plan to document how residents and stakeholders were engaged, and included the development of a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to advise the City on how best to engage and solicit input from the public.
The outreach process consists of two community surveys (digital and physical). The first climate survey was open for a month July to August, and it was to inform residents of the Climate Action planning process and to get a sense of our communities’ concerns in regards to climate change. Please click here to view the first climate survey results.
The second follow-up survey was open from early November to late December 2020. The purpose of the second survey was to get community input on their level of support for some of the specific proposed climate strategies. The survey gave our residents an opportunity to prioritize the actions they want the City to take and help identify what opportunities for funding City staff need to apply to implement the selected strategies.
Please click here to view the second climate survey results.
The CAAP will be assessed for impacts in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), documented in an Initial Study and Negative Declaration.
General Plan Amendment
The General Plan will be updated with an amendment to include the goals of the CAAP in the City planning process, further strengthening the City’s commitment to Climate Action.
This CAAP is a call to action to residents, community organizations, and businesses to take an active part in Watsonville’s transition to a low-carbon future. In this process, the City hopes to foster a vibrant economy, increase resiliency, and promote a sustainable community for future generations.