The Tempe City Council approved the 2022 Tempe Climate Action Plan update at a meeting March 3. The plan, which was first adopted in 2019, created a road map to address the immediate threat of extreme heat and implement strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and transportation sectors.

“Our City Council is fully committed to seeking and hearing our residents’ voices in this essential climate work,” Mayor Corey D. Woods said in a release. “Because of the thoughtful process of developing the update, council has a clear vision for a sustainable and resilient Tempe and an understanding of the personnel, programs, policies and infrastructure needed to get there.”

Tempe was the second Arizona city to adopt a climate action plan and the first city in the Valley, according to officials. The updated plan was created with residents and businesses through more than 20 listening sessions, focus groups and public meetings in 2021.

Tempe Sustainability and Resilience Director Braden Kay saluted the help of the Tempe Neighborhood Services Division; the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission; the Tempe Chamber of Commerce; the Arizona State University School for the Future of Innovation in Society, School of Sustainability and School of Design; and the community organization Unlimited Potential, according to the release.

“We wanted to take the time have conversations across Tempe and better understand what residents and businesses think about the current state of sustainability efforts and what their ideas of a truly sustainable city look and feel like,” Kay said in the release. “We were able to facilitate authentic and meaningful engagement that led to the co-creation of four agendas.”

The update reports municipal operations and community greenhouse gas emissions were reduced between 2015 and 2020. Municipal operations saw a 2.5% reduction, while community green house gas emissions were reduced by 16%, according to the report. This analysis helps Tempe decisionmakers and staff better understand the progress and strategies needed to achieve City Council's goal of being carbon neutral in community and municipal operations by 2050, according to the release.

Three main actions are outlined in the update as being the most significant in decreasing carbon emissions and promoting resilience to extreme heat, according to the release:

  • Green codes and standards: Ensure that Tempe builds buildings and infrastructure that allow residents to thrive despite increasing summer heat. Developers can design landscapes that capture stormwater while growing vegetation for shade and urban cooling to promote a more walkable and cooler Tempe. The city can also work to encourage sustainable construction methods and material use.

  • Transportation demand management and mobility hubs: Support programs and infrastructure that makes it affordable and easy to choose low-carbon transportation options throughout the city. There is an opportunity to develop a transportation demand management program to encourage transit and carpool use to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. The city can establish a network of mobility hubs that combine different modes of transportation in one location reducing the need for single occupancy trips and vehicle ownership.

  • Resilient hubs and resilient energy hubs: The city of Tempe can partner with utilities to reduce barriers to adding solar and battery storage to buildings of first response and first refuge. These solutions can add to the clean energy economy and ensure residents are prepared for power outages and increasingly hot summers.

The update lays out Tempe’s progress within these action areas since the 2019 climate action plan and provides examples of cities that have showed major advancement in these areas. The Sustainability and Resilience Office is proposing the creation of a Resilient Tempe Master Plan and Utility Feasibility Study to plan a comprehensive approach to green stormwater infrastructure, urban forestry and shade investments and determine appropriate long-term funding strategies to ensure Tempe is prepared for summers that have over 50 days a year over 110 degrees, according to the release.