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Reflecting on Our Inaugural Orange County Climate Action Plan Report Card

“Our children deserve to grow up in a community with clean air, ample parks, and the knowledge that we are doing all we can to leave them a safe and sustainable home.” - Councilmember José Trinidad Castañeda, CAC Report Release Press Conference

A few weeks ago, we released our inaugural Orange County Climate Action Plan (CAP) Report Card. This report was new for Orange County. For the past five years, CAC released a CAP Report Card, grading the climate action performance of the County of San Diego and its cities. This year, we brought this work north to Orange County.

We know bold action starts from the ground up, and cities are valuable partners in creating groundbreaking, community-oriented change. We created this report card so cities and communities can understand where our climate action stands and discover key recommendations for equitable and sustainable policy.

Top takeaways? Orange County is behind its neighboring jurisdictions in climate action. Fewer than 20% of Orange County cities have a CAP, and fewer met their climate goals. Here are some areas of improvement noted in our report:

Orange County Must Plan

Orange County is failing to plan for all climate impacts by not actively working towards a zero carbon region. In doing so, the County and its cities continue to harm communities and families by worsening climate pollution, deepening inequalities, and leaving communities vulnerable and unprepared. The climate crisis is impacting communities of color and low-income communities first and worst. Orange County must address these climate impacts with equitable policy and plan to mitigate future impacts by developing and implementing bold zero carbon climate action.

Orange County Needs Effective, Legally-Binding CAPs

Many Orange County cities elected to not create CAPs, instead relying on a variety of other non-binding plans for the appearance of climate action. The reality is these plans are meaningless if they are not legally binding, comprehensive documents with implementation guidelines. A CAP is one of the most valuable tools available to local governments to protect residents from climate impacts. The CAPs that do exist in Orange County are significantly outdated and need efficient implementation.

Orange County Needs Planning, Funding, and Implementation

This year, there is an unprecedented abundance of state and federal funding for climate action and investments. Orange County is lagging behind its neighboring jurisdictions, missing out on significant funding to protect its communities and to become a leader in climate action. Orange County needs to develop equitable legally-binding CAPs with detailed implementation measures.

The good news is Orange County has the capacity and community will to make effective change—we know what we need to do. Some OC cities are leading the charge and are working towards bold climate policies.

The top-performing cities were Huntington Beach, Fullerton, and Santa Ana. Want to know how your city did? Read our full report here.

We’re excited to continue to advocate for an equitable zero carbon Orange County.

Thank you from the CAC team!

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