July 7, 2015

Climate Action Plans 101

CoverPage_Final CAP Adoption Draft 2015Climate Action Campaign is helping develop, adopt, and implement successful, measurable and enforceable Climate Action Plans in Southern California and beyond. Check out where we’re taking over.

Purpose of Climate Action Plans:

Climate Action Plans (CAPs) are the guiding plans for public and private entities to identify and prioritize strategies, programs, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as adapt to a warmer climate and prepare residents, businesses, natural resources, wildlife, and infrastructure for the impacts of a changing climate.

Climate Action Plans can achieve multiple community goals such as social equity, improving air quality, lowering energy costs, supporting jobs and local economic development, providing more convenient and safe alternative transportation, and improving public health, quality of life, and the reliability and security of their energy system.

What should be in a Climate Action Plan:

Climate Action Plans should aim to address the biggest causes of climate change emissions- transportation, energy, and waste in most areas. We recommend CAPs include specific, quantifiable, and enforceable strategies to meet GHG reduction goals, while also benefiting communities most impacted by climate change (clink on the links to learn more) organized into the following categories:

To make sure Climate Action Plans are transparent, scientific, legally compliant, and achieve what they set out to do– help stop the worse impacts of climate change– plans should take the following steps:

  • GHG Baseline: Quantify current and projected community-wide GHG emissions.
  • Goals: Set GHG reduction targets over the life of the plan. In CA, plans should meet state climate laws:
    • Reduce to 1990 levels by 2020 (AB32)
    • 40% reduction by 2030 (SB32)
    • 80% reduction by 2050 (Executive Order S-3-05)
  • Strategies: Identify specific, quantifiable, and enforceable strategies that will collectively achieve the GHG targets.
  • Implementation and Monitoring: Establish a mechanism to monitor and publicly report the plan’s progress and make adjustments if needed.
  • Adoption: Be adopted in a public process following environmental review.

For our more detailed recommendations on what should be in a Climate Action Plan, refer to our CAP Report Card Grading Criteria, pages 8-12.

For more details on making CAPs and General Plans in California legally compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and state climate laws, check out these tips from the CA Attorney General.

Adopting a Climate Action Plan is just Step One in a long fight to stop climate change. Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to speed on the latest issues and get active to ensure our governments and community decision makers follow through with their plans and put their money where their mouths are!

Become a CAC member today and join our fight!

Below are some tips to get you started with climate action planning in your community.

Top5 CAP Tips from Nicole


Get On Our List