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 comprehensive plans that help local governments and private entities reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These plans are a piece of the global effort to mitigate climate change by ending our dependence on fossil fuels.

CAPs work like road maps that enable local governments to identify 1) their starting point (how much they’re emitting right now), 2) where they want to go (how much they want to be emitting at a specified future date), and 3) what is the best route to follow (what strategies will most effectively reduce emissions to the target level).

The strategies identified in CAPs can achieve multiple community goals, including:

  • Advancing social equity
  • Improving air quality
  • Lowering energy costs
  • Supporting jobs and local economic development
  • Improving public health and quality of life

Because CAPs are developed at the local level, they can be powerful tools to both advance climate solutions and address the unique goals and priorities held by the communities in which they are designed.

What should be in a Climate Action Plan:

Climate Action Plans should aim to address the most significant sources of GHG emissions, which in most cities are transportation, energy, and waste. We recommend CAPs include specific, quantifiable, and enforceable strategies to meet GHG reduction goals and benefit the communities most impacted by climate change.

To make sure Climate Action Plans are transparent, scientific, legally compliant, and successfully reduce emissions, 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. Key strategies include:
    • 100% Clean Energy, achieved through Community Choice Energy
    • Commuter mode share targets for percent traveling by biking, walking, and transit
    • Citywide energy reduction and water conservation targets
    • Municipal fleet conversion to Zero Emission Vehicles
    • Support dense infill development and affordable housing near jobs and transit
    • Commit to Zero Waste by a specified date
    • Quantifiable goal to increase tree canopy with drought-tolerant species
  • 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.

Interested in Learning More? 

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