City of Columbia Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Columbia’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) lays out a vision and strategy to address risks posed by climate change and contribute to international efforts to draw down greenhouse gas emissions.

Our plan outlines goals for reducing community greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2035, by 80% by 2050, and by 100% by 2060. The goals for reducing municipal operations emissions are 50% by 2035 and 100% by 2050.

Read the CAAP

two pages of annual report showing cover page and page with pie chart.

Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

CAAP 2021 Annual Report

This report provides an update on our progress towards meeting the goals of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), as an organization and as a community. The annual report also outlines upcoming priority issues and areas of focus. For primary metrics being tracked, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Read the full 2021 Annual Report

Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Each year, the Office of Sustainability staff conducts greenhouse gas inventories to measure both community and municipal operations greenhouse gas emissions. This report has two sections; the Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report and the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory report.

Read the full 2021 Inventory Report

Two pages of inventory report, cover page and page showing data and graphic.

CAAP Action Implementation Table

Implementing the CAAP requires motivating staff, finding funding for strategies, involving community members to make key changes and sustaining momentum. Columbia has already taken steps to improve community sustainability. The implementation of the CAAP strategies is a priority for Columbia. The table below provides all of the CAAP strategies in a format to allow for ease of tracking progress on implementation.


Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Developing the CAAP

In 2017, the City of Columbia launched the development of its first Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP). The Plan is the product of over a year-long public and stakeholder engagement process that included three community workshops, online public surveys, presentations at board and commission meetings, engagement at community events, collaboration with concurrent planning efforts and close collaboration with an internal municipal team and the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action & Adaptation Planning. The CAAP will live on this site and this page provides more details on how the Plan was developed. You may also download a copy of the Council-Approved Plan for reading offline.


Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Why is the CAAP Important?

The effects of increased global greenhouse gas emissions threaten Columbia’s resources and quality of life. Extreme heat, drought, higher incidence of extreme severe storms, and reduced air quality are growing threats in Columbia due to climate change. By taking action now to reduce our community’s contribution to worldwide emissions and prepare for climate risks, the City of Columbia can better protect the well-being of its residents for decades to come.


Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

About the Planning Process

The plan was written for the community and by the community. Significant contributors included the public, the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action & Adaptation Planning (Task Force), and City staff. In development since 2017 and consisting of multiple community and City of Columbia Staff workshops, Task Force meetings, and public surveys, this plan focuses on effective actions. These actions achieve the greatest emission reductions and increase our community preparedness in the most cost-effective and equitable manner. The entire community—businesses, residents, and municipal government—all have a role in both implementing the plan and enjoying its benefits.


Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Community Voices in the CAAP

Over 300 community members attended 2 public workshops during Plan development. From those, and the over 1,900 responses to online community surveys, the following responses were captured:
        -Strong community support for immediate action to reduce GHG emissions from energy and land use and to prepare for a changing climate
        -Strong agreement that Columbia should be a leader when it comes to proactively addressing climate change
        -Support for adoption of the CAAP, and belief that the Plan effectively provides direction to City government and staff on actions to address climate change


Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Key Sectors

The CAAP identified goals, strategies, and actions in six key sectors: Energy; Natural Resources; Transportation; Waste; Housing, Buildings and Development; and Health, Safety and Well-Being.

Building Energy Emissions

Building GHG emissions are influenced by the amount of energy used as well as the amount of emissions generated per unit of energy. Factors such as building energy efficiency, weather, and consumer behavior impact energy usage. Sourcing from an increasing amount of renewable energy is essential to reducing the emissions produced per unit of energy. These changes, along with other factors such as federal appliance standards, building energy codes, and utility programs can contribute to reductions in building energy GHG emissions.

Municipal Fleet Emissions

Municipal transportation emissions include fleet vehicles, transit vehicles, airport ground equipment, and employee commute. In 2021, Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVLs) were installed in 417 highway use municipal vehicles. AVLs allow the City  to collect, measure, and analyze fuel consumption, vehicle miles traveled, and idling for each vehicle. This will assist the City in making informed decisions about the fleet and reducing transportation-related GHG emissions.

Renewable Electricity

The W&L renewable energy (RE) portfolio is driven by ordinance goals of 30% by 2029. In order to support longer term and more ambitious goals, the utility has included the CAAP RE goals in its long range planning process. Energy-related emissions from electricity and natural gas used in homes, businesses, and industry account for around 70% of Columbia's total GHG emissions. Using more clean energy is critical and by far the most impactful modeled CAAP strategy. 

Community On-site Solar Capacity

Community on-site solar capacity accounts for the customer-owned photovoltaic (PV) systems in Columbia W&L’s distribution system. This does not include utility-owned PV arrays or PV systems that W&L purchases electricity from. Customer-owned solar can play an important part in reducing energy emissions and increasing resilience to power outages, especially when solar is paired with energy storage.

Per Capita Water Consumption

Per-capita water consumption (gallons/resident). Like building energy use, water usage is strongly influenced by weather, specifically summer temperatures and rainfall amounts. The lower per capita usage in 2017 & 2019 corresponds with cooler summer temperatures and higher usage in 2018 with higher relative summer temperatures.

City Recycling Rate

Recycling rate is the tons of material recycled through City-offered services divided by the tons of total solid waste received through City-offered services in a given year. This currently does not include recycled appliance material or recycling taken to third-party recycling services. It is important to note that increased contamination of recycling, even if it increases the total tons of material sent to recycling, negatively impacts the recycling rate. 

The Solid Waste Utility has transitioned to a pay-as-you-throw rate structure. Some expected outcomes of the rate adjustment are a decrease in waste generated, an increase in recycling participation, an incentive for the reuse/repurposing of large household items, and improved working conditions for staff.

Residential Energy Use

Residential energy usage is influenced by factors such as weather and population. Though residential energy usage has fluctuated some, it has changed very little since the 2015 baseline. The 2035 and 2050 targets do not include the influence of electrification of space and water heating or transportation. These will be accounted for once more specifics can be derived. Expanding participation in City programs to improve residential energy efficiency and increasing awareness of Home Energy Scores are important steps to reach our residential energy goals.

Cumulative Residential Energy Savings from Columbia Water and Light Programs

This data represents cumulative energy savings from Columbia Water & Light residential energy efficiency programs, residential photovoltaic, such as home performance with Energy Star, residential AC/HP, and free home assessments. Programs outside of USD that reduce residential energy consumption in our community are not included in this data. Community participation in energy savings programs is an important factor in reaching our goals. Visit to learn more about participating in these programs and helping us reach our goals.