Initial read of latest Dallas Climate Plan draft shows few improvements, possibly fudged numbers

April 23, 2020 Sunrise Movement Dallas

The revised Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) falls far short of taking bold, swift action on climate change. Here are our initial takeaways from a few hours of reading the 220 page document.

The city strengthened some language in the plan. For example, it committed to “pursue” rather than “consider” carbon accreditation for the Dallas Executive Airport. The city also added more educational or advocacy campaigns for submetering buildings, vehicle electrification for residents, and greening the electrical grid.

This type of incrementalism won’t get us to a livable future. In fact, it ensures the opposite. We need decisive action to ensure our community stays safe, now. Here’s a deep dive on our findings.

WE NEED REAL ACTION, NOT FUDGED NUMBERS – It looks like this draft of the plan shows greater emissions reductions because of modeling assumptions rather than strengthened action. This is based on a close reading of the plan’s actions and emissions assumptions (pages 29 and 30). While the plan itself changed very little, the city added assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and customer purchases of renewable energy plans to boost emissions reductions numbers.

(Note: We are seeking clarification about this item).

WE NEED A PLAN WRITTEN BY PEOPLE, NOT POLLUTERS – Instead of eliminating natural gas hookups (in action B6), the city weakened this action by eliminating language about electrifying the largest natural gas consumers quickly and no longer mentions carbon “lock-in” from continuing to use natural gas. On the city’s online forum, 12 of the 21 comments for this action called for eliminating gas hookups in new construction and received over 100 positive reactions. No comments suggested weakening this action. However, we do know that Atmos Energy (natual gas monopoly) lobbyists made their rounds at City Hall during the week of the last CECAP stakeholder meeting. They even showed up to the meeting uninvited to put fossil fuel profits over people.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING NOW. ACT LIKE IT – Instead of electrifying its vehicle fleet sooner than 2030, the city changed the language on this action from “aiming” to make new vehicles electric to “ensuring” new vehicles would be electric in 2030. The city added an action about doing electric vehicle education, but didn’t take the lead on transitioning its own fleet before 2030. Ultimately, this misses the point. 2030 is too late. Without swifter action, our homes will be subject to more extreme weather, flooding, and air pollution. 11 of the 21 public comments about this action supported a quicker timeline for electric vehicles and received 75% of all positive reactions among all comments.

Similarly, people requested the city require buildings to reach zero net pollution sooner than 2030. Instead, language in action B12 was weakened by removing verbiage about polluting fossil fuels and transitioning away from natural gas. 5 of the 12 comments on the online forum for this action, which received a large share of all positive reactions, suggested moving this timeline up. No comments suggested weakening this action as it was. We have to wonder what behind the scenes conversations Atmos Energy and other lobbyists were having.

Even worse, the city reduced its target for electric vehicle charging stations down from 9,000 to 1,500 by 2030 in its latest draft. There is no explanation for this on the public forum on action T4 (the most directly related action). 4 of 10 comments on the forum requested an interim target of 4,500 charging stations by 2025 and received 63% of all positive reactions among all comments. No interim target was added.

GIVE YOUNG PEOPLE A REAL VOICE IN OUR FUTURE – There are no guarantees about continued accountability and transparency. Instead of creating a commission to support resident communication, input, and accountability for the life of a 30-year plan, the city added one sentence in its 222 page document saying it will create an advisory committee for CECAP implementation. The document included no specifics, details, or principles about this committee.

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