From March to August 2012, the Sierra Club Bay Chapter has had a special relationship with the Oakland Climate Action Coalition.
The OCAC played a key role in getting the Oakland City Council to set the aggressive target of lowering Oakland’s production of greenhouse gases to 36% below 2005 levels by 2020. Other goals the Council included in the city’s Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP) are increasing the capacity of communities to adapt to the effects of climate change and building a robust sustainable economy with good green-job opportunities.
The Coalition now focuses on the implementation of the ECAP–to promote climate justice for low-income and working-class communities in Oakland and to build an equitable, thriving, local green economy. It has four working committees:
Energy–making energy-efficiency upgrades accessible to low-income residents and renters, and establishing a Community Choice energy program in Oakland;
Urban Agriculture–securing a stable, local food sources through small- and large-scale urban agriculture, including access to unused lands, more nutritious food in low-income communities, and the development of local businesses;
Transportation/Land Use–building affordable, transit-oriented development–with safe, reliable, frequent, and affordable transit service; as well as affordable housing, renter protections, and housing rights to enable low-income families to stay in their homes even as new construction is built near transit centers;
Resilience and Adaptation–helping low-income communities and communities of color adapt to the effects of climate change.
The OCAC is making Oakland a model for cities across the country.
An unusual organization
The OCAC is an exceptional climate-change organization. It is a coalition of community organizations from throughout the city, and most of its member organizations represent working-class, low-income, and/or minority communities. These are the people (in Oakland and worldwide) who are most impacted by the effects of climate change, and it is vital that they be able to speak out about their concerns and play a key role in shaping policy.
The OCAC was initially convened in 2009 by the Ella Baker Center, but this year for budgetary reasons the center had to discontinue its staff support for the OCAC. That’s why the Sierra Club Bay Chapter stepped in to provide six months of staff support to keep the Coalition’s work going and help it plan for long-term funding. By working with the OCAC, we advance the Sierra Club’s climate agenda; increase our visibility, influence, and organizing in Oakland; and nurture a growing environmental engagement among communities that have not historically been adequately represented in ‘mainstream’ environmental organizations.
Join one of the four OCAC committees listed above. Each meets monthly; for time and place, see tinyurl.com/OCACcalendar. There also general members’ meetings every three months with updates from each committee about its recent work.