Oakland is the most just and sustainable city in the country, led by low-income communities of color. Residents have improved access to healthy, locally grown food, safe affordable housing, clean air, safe water, local renewable energy, and affordable, reliable, frequent and accessible transit. Low-income communities are more resilient and prepared for disaster in the face of climate change. Oakland residents have gained a sense of community empowerment and self-determination such that they can provide for their own vital needs. Oakland has a localized green economy that provides green job and ownership opportunities to local residents that restore the environment. Oakland invests in building the health, wealth and resilience of communities most impacted by climate change. These actions have reduced Oakland’s greenhouse gas emissions to 36% below 2005 levels, and put the City on track to 85% reductions by 2050.
The mission of the OCAC—a cross-sector coalition dedicated to racial and economic justice—is to engage Oakland residents in creating and implementing climate solutions that strengthen the environmental, economic, and social resilience of frontline communities.
The OCAC pursues this mission by:
- Developing a comprehensive agenda and program for addressing the impact of climate change on frontline communities
- Bringing together and supporting grassroots campaigns and initiatives that build community resilience
- Amplifying community voices and building grassroots power to shape public resilience plans and policies
- Strengthening community resources through neighborhood-based climate education, planning, and organizing
- Climate Justice and Equity–Effective climate action is rooted in social justice and equity.
- Green Jobs and Livelihoods–Effective climate action creates local green job and ownership opportunities, especially for those most vulnerable to poverty and pollution. Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan helps businesses and industries improve the environment and restore our communities.
- Healthy Communities–Effective climate action creates locally resilient sustainable foods systems and provides access to healthy foods, walkable neighborhoods, clean air and pure water.
- Democracy–Effective climate action depends on shared leadership and decision-making authority of impacted communities.
- Climate Adaptation–Effective climate action helps vulnerable communities prepare for disaster, adapt to the effects of climate change, and build community resilience.
- Rights of Future Generations – Effective climate action respects life in all its diversity, recognizes that all beings are interdependent, and that all life has value. We act together to protect our communities and environment for present and future generations.
- Precautionary Principle–Effective climate action is grounded in the ‘precautionary principle’ that a project, policy, or decision should not be pursued if it could have an adverse impact on human or environmental health.
- Polluters Pay–Effective climate action requires that entities responsible for pollution pay to clean up and compensate communities for past and current impacts.
- Community Knowledge–Effective climate action values the every-day experience and knowledge of community members as much as scientific, legal, and policy expertise.
Our membership consists of over 30 other community-based, faith, labor, and environmental advocacy organizations.
The coalition’s strategic direction is set by a Steering Committee comprised of organizations leading the coalition’s four campaign committees. Current Steering Committee members include: Communities for a Better Environment, Local Clean Energy Alliance, Pacific Institute, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. The Steering Committee guides the OCAC and conducts general OCAC membership meetings.
Each campaign committee has a campaign goal and action work plan that guides its respective work. The leadership of the campaign committees is responsible for planning and facilitating monthly committee meetings as well as leading the implementation of their action plans. The goal is for each committee to be co-chaired, with one co-chair being drawn from a community base-building organization working with low-income communities of color.
The OCAC currently has one part-time staff member to convene the coalition’s meetings, maintain the OCAC’s information infrastructure, support the coalition’s organizing campaigns.
- Colin Miller
- Yassi Eskandari-Qajar
- Corrine Van Hook
- Al Weinrub
- Shiva Patel
- Shreya Shankh
Started in 2009, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) is a cross-sector collaboration striving to lead Oakland’s response to climate change—both mitigation and adaptation—through sustainable, equitable, community-based economic development. OCAC has provided research, policy expertise, strategic planning, and most importantly, advocacy, coordination, and organizing for the climate justice needs of Oakland communities.
The coalition has championed this approach in partnering with the city to develop Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP), which was adopted in December 2012. Based on a strong commitment to social equity, coalition members worked with city staff and Council members to shape the content of the ECAP. As a result, more than half of the language of the ECAP was contributed directly through OCAC efforts.
The coalition is currently engaged in four campaigns, consistent with the Oakland’s ECAP, but which represent a climate justice perspective and goals that did not get explicitly included in the ECAP. These campaigns prioritize the social and economic needs of communities most vulnerable to climate change impacts in Oakland.
These four campaigns engage Oakland’s communities in implementing climate justice policies and programs that address the social and economic needs of low-income communities of color—those most impacted by and vulnerable to climate change—while leading the transition to a non-fossil-fuel economy.