Cleveland, Ohio Climate Action Plan - 2018 Update

The 2018 Cleveland, Ohio Climate Action Plan (CAP) addresses the need to build climate change resilience while prioritizing social and racial equity and the development of "green jobs." The CAP was developed through twelve workshops held throughout the city, and the majority (54%) of the 300 attendees were people of color. The CAP is supported by a 90 member Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC) that includes membership from a number of environmental and community based organizations. A subset of the CAAC developed a Racial Equity Tool that was used to review each action item under consideration for the plan. The CAP aims to reduce flooding, increase water supply, and improve water quality by promoting green spaces that reduce runoff and combined sewer overflows (CSOs). This plan has resulted in improved water efficiency and the amount of wastewater overflow in the city decreasing from 5 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d) in 2011 to 4.1 Bgal/d in 2015.

The actions outlined in the 2018 CAP are designed to achieve sustainability in Cleveland by integrating solutions that are environmentally sound, economically feasible, and socially equitable. While escalating Cleveland’s original 2013 CAP to continue building “Thriving and Healthy Neighborhoods" - the update maintains the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, with interim goals of 16% by 2020 and 40% by 2030.


Social equity is said to serve as “the main thread that ties this plan together.” Each action under consideration for the plan was reviewed using a Racial Equity Tool developed by a subset of the Climate Action Advisory Committee. The tool (found in Appendix A) is designed to support the advancement and implementation of the CAP’s equity goals. The tool is also a template format that can be used for other local government’s decision-making around policies, planning, programming and budgeting to advance racial equity and resilience.

The CAP Equity Goals include:

Shared economic prosperity and inclusion: by promoting employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that empower communities, and support equitable hiring and contracting policies.

Improved health: by mitigating environmental factors leading to health disparities.

Resilient and vital neighborhoods: by promoting investments in housing energy efficiency and climate resilient community infrastructure.

Engaging: with communities of color and under-represented populations in the CAP process to define priorities including for the Cleveland Climate Action Fund, and develop strategies that are inclusive and empowering climate actions.

Transformational Change: using the CAP Racial Equity Tool to guide decision-makers through the process of “recognizing inequities, the conditions under which they thrive, and the possible solutions and environments that would mitigate negative effects and enhance positive results.”

The Racial Equity Tool will be used to analyze each climate action objective in Cleveland’s CAP and its corresponding suite of actions, and then aid in the development of an implementation strategy.


28 key objectives including climate resilience strategies are defined under five focal areas of: Energy efficiency, Clean energy, Sustainable transportation, Clean water and Green space, and Local food/Less waste. 

This resource was featured in the Sept. 20, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

"The City of Cleveland and its partners have engaged hundreds of community members to update its Climate Action Plan (CAP). Using the workshop framework of “Learn More. Say More. Do More: Workshops on Health, Community and Climate Action” residents actively participated in sharing what is most important for their families and communities. Integrating innovative platforms for community engagement has empowered residents to drive projects and initiatives forward to advance climate action in their own neighborhoods."

Some of the Climate Resilience Actions and strategies identified for these sectors include to: 

  • Make homes, businesses, and community hubs more efficient and resilient to extreme weather to provide comfortable and safe places to shelter for those most vulnerable
  • Develop more formal green policy for new commercial buildings that goes beyond code, especially for those projects receiving public money
  • Update Cleveland Green Building Standard to incorporate new codes, support higher performance building, and advance social equity
  • Investing in local solar generation with storage capacity to be used to power facilities in the event of a brownout
  • Integrate gray and green infrastructure to manage the water runoff and combined sewer overflows from more frequent and intense storms
  • Explore the integration of trees into the Stormwater Credit Program to increase trees and manage stormwater
  • Expand green roof installations through outreach and incentives, including the Stormwater Credit Fee
  • Update policies to expand institutional purchasing of local and climate-friendly foods throughout the City

Objective 28: Improve Resilience to Climate Change & Other Impacts includes the following Actions:

  • Develop plan to continue and extend work under the Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative, including the role of neighborhood climate ambassadors
  • Complete the City Resilience Index
  • Incorporate Climate and Vulnerability Assessment into city and county plans
  • Use an inventory of houses with air conditioning for a more responsive network of cooling and heating centers and draft guidelines for network members
  • Develop air quality mapping program at neighborhood level, focusing on community hubs

Cleveland focuses on sustainable economic development in the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, and this plan prioritizes actions where business and government can work together to support green job growth.

The updated CAP was supported by a 90-member Climate Action Advisory Committee. 12 Workshops were also a key engagement platform for the CAP update process, where more than 300 attendees shared priorities. The updated plan and the extensive engagement process behind it were supported in large part through a Partners for Places grant that supports Cleveland to incorporate equity into sustainability efforts, including Cleveland’s Climate Action Fund. 


Publication Date: September 21, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • City of Cleveland, Office of Sustainability

Related Toolkits:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan
  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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