A climate action plan (CAP) is a detailed and strategic framework for measuring, planning, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related climatic impacts. Municipalities design and utilize CAPs as customized roadmaps for making informed decisions and understanding where and how to achieve the largest and most cost-effective emissions reductions that are in alignment with other municipal goals.
CAPs, at a minimum, include an inventory of existing emissions, reduction goals or targets, and analyzed and prioritized reduction actions. Ideally, a CAP also includes an implementation strategy that identifies required resources and funding mechanisms.
A CAP typically addresses but is not exclusive to the following:
- Baseline and projected GHG emissions
- Goals and reduction targets
- Alternative policy options
- Identification and screening of emission reduction strategies
- Forecast effectiveness of emission reduction strategies
- Recommendations and strategy for implementation
- Monitoring mechanisms for measuring progress
Why Should a City or County Create a Climate Action Plan (CAP)?
Creating a CAP authorizes a city or county to develop policies that will not only help cut back spending and improve the quality of life of residents but can help minimize their carbon footprint. Other benefits associated with climate action plans may include improved air quality, decreased traffic and congestion, better access to parks, and providing savings on energy efficiency plans.
The greatest benefit from a regulatory perspective for CAPs is how it allows the tiering of CEQA analyses under CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.5(b)(2). Section 15183.5(b)(1) provides specific standards that a CAP must meet for it to be “qualified” to be used for tiering. But once it is considered qualified, it allows for a more streamlined analysis and project approval process.
Many climate change mitigation measures generate broader non–climate related benefits. For example, energy efficiency programs lower costs while reducing GHG emissions. Increasing carpools and public transportation reduces pollution and traffic congestion in addition to reducing GHG emissions. Reforestation and urban tree programs not only sequester carbon, but also can reduce the amount of energy used for cooling and provide aesthetic improvement.
To find out more, read about Air Quality/GHG Management.