Current Score

The Climate Action Playbook is a plan for how our community can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and address climate change. Just as a sports playbook identifies a team’s winning strategies for achieving success on the field, the Climate Action Playbook contains winning strategies to meet California’s new targets for deeper emissions reductions. We are aiming to reduce emissions by: 

  • 56% below 1990 levels by 2030 (exceeding the State’s 40% by 2030 target), and
  • 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Playbook lays out the following path to achieving these targets:

  • Six key Strategies that outline the overarching approach for bold climate action
  • Eighteen Plays within the Strategies that identify areas for action and measurable targets to define progress
  • Game Plan 2023, which contains 46 “Next Moves” (specific actions) that the City and community can collectively take to address climate change.

As of 2021, Sunnyvale’s community-wide emissions were 31% below 1990 levels, which are defined as 15% below 2008 by the California Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32. Although the 2020 emissions show us much closer to our 2030 target, we cannot expect this reduction to last. Most of the reductions in emissions were due to the countywide shelter in place imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more details about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on emissions below.

To learn more about sustainability efforts in Sunnyvale, Read the full Climate Action Playbook and visit the City of Sunnyvale Sustainability webpage.

Sunnyvale scoreboard showing a graphic representation of the data in the description

Game Plan 2023 Legend

The Climate Action Playbook defines our "Next Moves" between now and 2023. These are not intended to achieve the 2030 targets, but rather to help catapult action and progress towards those targets. The Moves will be updated in alignment with department work plans every five years thereafter, to ensure that climate action priorities are consistently and continually woven throughout City operations. The next work plan, Game Plan 2028, is in development.

As we developed these Moves, we rated them in terms of their carbon reduction potential as well as the other community goals each would help us achieve. In the "At-a-Glance" table below, Moves supporting each co-benefit are illustrated with a series of icons. Colored icons indicate when the Move will support the respective co-benefit. This legend explains each of the co-benefit icons, as well as those developed to show where we are in terms of progress implementing the Move.

The timeline for several Moves, originally scheduled for implementation in FY 20/21, was shifted when the Game Plan was extended to 2023 in response to COVID-19 pandemic-related impacts.


GHG Reduction Potential illustrates the relative carbon savings potential of a Move on a scale of 1 to 4, where 1 cloud indicates minimum potential (e.g., informational or educational action that supports other Moves) up to 4 clouds which indicates maximum potential (e.g., affecting emissions of an entire sector).

Local Environmental Quality indicates Moves that improve air quality, water quality, and/or open space amenities.

Health and Livability indicates Moves that improve physical, mental and emotional health or wellbeing and quality of life for residents, employees, and visitors.

Community Savings Moves provide long-term savings for residents, businesses, or the City.

Partnership Moves will require assistance from and coordination with partner organizations or agencies, such as SVCE and Valley Water.


Green Checkmark - "Complete or ongoing" routine implementation (e.g., base level of outreach, monitoring, or implementation needed).

Three Blue Dots - "In Progress" (i.e., on track and implemented as originally planned).

Purple Clock  - "Delayed" (i.e., scheduled for the current year but delayed).

Grey Circle  - "Not yet scheduled" (i.e., scheduled for implementation in later years).

Yellow Pause - "On hold" (i.e., due to the pandemic or awaiting action by players outside the City).

Game Plan 2023 At-a-Glance

The following table provides an at-a-glance view of the status of each one of our Moves. Expand each Strategy and Play to find each of the Moves, their status, and the co-benefits each will provide the community as they are implemented.

GHG Emissions

2021 Inventory by Sector

The City tracks and reports on its sources of GHG emissions by developing a GHG inventory. The City's first inventory was for year 2008 and has been updated regularly since 2014. In the absence of 1990 emissions data by sector, the 2008 emissions are referenced throughout this Scoreboard. In 2021, communitywide GHG emissions totaled 688,738 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). Knowing where the biggest sources of GHGs are helps us to prioritize actions around the biggest opportunities for reductions. Transportation emissions arise from fossil fuel-powered vehicles on city streets. Commercial and Residential Gas emissions come from heating buildings and water using natural gas. Emissions from Natural Gas use make up more than a quarter of our overall emissions. We can anticipate the emissions in these sectors to remain high until we transition those activities to run on clean electricity and improve alternative means of travel within the city.

The timeline for several Moves, originally scheduled for implementation in FY 20/21, was shifted when the Game Plan was extended to 2023 in response to COVID-19 pandemic-related impacts.

GHG Emissions

Progress Toward Targets

Sunnyvale has demonstrated excellent progress since we began our commitment to do our part in eliminating greenhouse gases. To reach the final goal of 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 (equivalent to carbon neutrality), the City recognized that it was essential to exceed the State's 2030 target of reducing emissions by 40% below 1990 levels. Thus, the City established an interim target of reducing emissions by 56% below 1990 levels by 2030.  Reducing emissions sooner will not only be more beneficial to a stable climate, but it will position Sunnyvale to make deeper cuts over the 2030 - 2050-time horizon.

In 2021, we achieved a 31% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels. This is an additional 13 percentage point increase from 2020 emission levels. 2020 was an unusual year because the countywide COVID-19 shelter in place order reduced economic and social activity in Sunnyvale. The shelter in place order resulted in fewer daily commutes and less natural gas use in commercial buildings. When the shelter in place order lifted in late 2021, we began to see those activities rise again. As COVID-19 impacts continue to lessen, it will be even more important to target those sectors to meet our 2030 target. 

infographic of the biggest drivers as explained in the description text

Biggest Drivers

Due to some of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifting, emissions in 2021 went up 22% from 2020. This can be attributed to the following drivers:

- Off-road: In 2021, Sunnyvale had a high number of new housing units developed. Impacts on resource and material cost and availability from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to prolonged completion of projects. This resulted in a 260% increase in emissions associated with the off-road sector and was the biggest driver of the emissions increase from 2020 levels.

- Transportation: After accounting for gradual changes in travel patterns during the pandemic, the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and associated emissions from driving increased by 10% in 2021. 

- Electricity: Since 2017, Sunnyvale’s electricity emissions declined due to receiving carbon-free electricity from Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE). However, some of our residents and businesses still receive their electricity from PG&E. In 2020, PG&E reported their electricity was carbon-free. This resulted in electricity emissions dropping to nearly zero. In 2021, PG&E reported that they did not supply 100% carbon-free electricity. This resulted in a 913% increase in the sector.

- Natural Gas: lifting the shelter in place order resulted in most office buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, and other commercial businesses returning to partial or full operating capacity. Accordingly, we saw a 9% increase in the amount of natural gas used in commercial buildings.

In our first Climate Action Plan, we developed different scenarios for emissions starting in 2014. This included a business-as-usual (BAU) projection that simply grew emissions in line with future development. We also looked at where state level policies alone would get us.

To these scenarios we added the anticipated impact of our CAP 1.0 policies, which only take us part of the way to our targets before growth causes them to rise again. The policies and actions in this Playbook are designed to create deep cuts in line with our long term targets.

Over the next 30 years we will continue to refine our actions and plan for what is necessary to keep on the pathway to at least 80% reductions by 2050.