Climate for Community

Empowering ordinary people to fight global warming

Small commercial, residential and transportation activities were responsible for 60% of California's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2007. These widely dispersed sources represent a large pool of emissions that can be avoided at low cost and in ways that save people money on food, fuel and utility bills.

Environmental Defense Fund and San Francisco Community Power (SF Power) are spearheading Climate for Community (C4C) to demonstrate how California residents and small businesses can be active participants in the fight against global warming and reap economic benefits from helping California meet its 2020 emissions cap.

How Climate for Community works

Individuals and small businesses can save on utility bills and make money in the state's upcoming carbon market by documenting and combining efforts in a simple three-step process:

  1. Take actions that reduce pollution, such as replacing inefficient appliances, improving weatherization, recycling and using public transit.

  2. Document actions and tally avoided emissions.*

  3. Verify, combine and sell avoided emissions as credits, rewarding communities with cash.*

* Done by approved third-parties.

Through this "pooling" effort, communities gain a new source of revenue by trading allowances as credits within carbon markets. By valuing grassroots efforts, Climate for Community can bring needed investments into California’s over-burdened and under-invested communities.

Results from the pilot program

To show that community reductions can be achieved and documented, approximately 500 low-income households and small businesses participated in a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009. More than 150 homes received kits with resource-saving devices—including a compact fluorescent light bulb, motion activated light switch and low-flow faucet aerator. Combined, these kits can avoid an estimated 3,500 pounds of CO2 emissions per household each year.

Among the pilot program findings:

  • Approximately 30,000 inefficient household refrigerators could be replaced with more efficient units at no net cost, yielding more than $2.5 million in combined net savings on utility bills or an average annual household saving of $65. Energy savings from these refrigerator replacements would avoid 90,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. (Based on PG&E's average emissions for electricity generation.)

  • If avoided emissions were combined and sold as allowances, an additional $400,000 (based on $20 per one ton allowance), or about $16 per refrigerator, would be added to the positive economic benefits of refrigerator replacements.

  • More than 2,000 toilets could be cost-effectively replaced with high efficiency models, saving 7 million gallons of water and avoiding approximately 20 tons of CO2 annually.

Several small businesses also got consultations for lighting improvements, refrigeration efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation and alternative transportation fuels. Many are now saving thousands in utility bills and avoiding hundreds of tons of emissions annually. Read the small business profiles on this page for more details.

The next step

EDF and SF Power have completed complementary studies of the program's technical and economic feasibility. EDF is encouraging CARB to incorporate community aggregation into its cap-and-trade program as a way to help communities benefit directly from AB 32.

Please visit our project partner San Francisco Community Power for more information about what households and small businesses are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.

Sacramento 1107 9th Street, Suite 540 Sacramento, CA 95814 Telephone: (916) 492-7070 Fax: (916) 441-3142  San Francisco 123 Mission Street, 28th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105 Telephone: (415) 293-6050 Fax: (415) 293-6051  Founded in 1971, our California offices work to sustain Pacific fisheries, clear the air, fight global warming and manage water supplies for both people and the environment.

In three simple steps, communities can fight global warming and benefit economically.

How we use partnerships

To solve tough problems, we work with everyone from private equity fund managers to moms to Midwestern farmers.

More about our partnerships »