Board Vice Chair Sergio Lopez address the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan Celebration
VTA Celebrates the Completion of its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) held a community celebration to recognize the collective efforts of staff and local partners to address the climate crisis.

With the help of a grant provided by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), VTA was able to prepare a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) focused on actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and advance climate adaptation and resiliency across VTA operations and the countywide transportation system.

VTA’s Board of Directors approved the CAAP at its regular board meeting in February. The plan includes actions to phase out the use of fossil fuels for vehicles and buildings, increase the development of mixed-use and transit-oriented communities, and improve transit service to encourage more people to leave their cars behind. The plan also includes actions to protect riders and staff during periods of extreme heat, such as increasing shade and using heat-mitigating materials around facilities, and bolster emergency preparedness and response efforts related to climate hazards like severe flooding from atmospheric rivers. 

The celebration included presentation of awards to staff, students, and community members who contributed to the plan. Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action, a youth-led nonprofit that empowers teens and young adults to combat climate change with impactful, interdisciplinary education and policy initiatives, was one of the recipients.

Supervisor Chavez presents certificates to students
VTA Board Chair and County Supervisor Cindy Chavez presents certificates to students (r-l) Maxim Medvedev of De Anza College, Sarah Gibbs of Foothill College, and Xinpei Lu of Cupertino High School for their participation in VTA's Climate Action and Adaptation Plan

Students Leading the Way

“It was Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action who advocated for VTA to formally declare a climate emergency in 2020,” said Lani Lee Ho, Senior Environmental Planner at VTA. “This was the impetus for the CAAP and from it, we have formed an alliance working together with students and youth to mitigate and restore the climate for future generations,” she said.

Work on the CAAP began in 2022 with a community survey and virtual public workshop. Findings from that survey showed that 88% of those asked agreed that climate change would have a personal effect on their lives. Impacts related to rising sea levels, higher risks of wildfire, extreme heat events, and drought were among the top concerns of Santa Clara County residents and commuters. In Fall 2023, VTA held public meetings in person at De Anza College, and virtually, gathering feedback to inform the plan.

The Draft CAAP was prepared with input and guidance from regional and local agencies made possible by the Santa Clara County Climate Collaborative. The Collaborative is a multi-sector network and community of practice for public agencies, academia, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and business and community leaders. The work of the Collaborative advances regional solutions to climate change through resource and expertise sharing, joint-funding opportunities, and partnership development.

With the CAAP now complete, VTA is moving immediately into the implementation phase and will report on its progress later this year.

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