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Climate Action Planning

Status of Local Climate Action

Alameda County was one of the first CA counties in which every jurisdiction committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the year 2020. As 2020 approaches, jurisdictions are exploring options for updating their CAPs to pursue deeper future emissions reductions aligned with the State of California and international agreements.

StopWaste conducted a survey and workshop with jurisdictions on their “CAP 2.0” planning efforts and implementation of the original CAPs to date. The survey and discussions revealed similarities in approaches and needs. There were at least four areas that could benefit from regional coordination:

  1. Regionally coordinated sector-level goals: This allows efficiencies by pooling policy research, development, and implementation efforts. StopWaste could develop a framework through a group process with the jurisdictions.
  2. GHG inventory standardization and automation: This addresses the current barriers to using inventories meaningfully. StopWaste has been advocating for this at the regional and state levels and will continue to do so.
  3. Implementation metrics identification and standardization: This allows jurisdictions to track specifically their CAP implementation progress and compare with other jurisdictions to find best practices.
  4. Sharing of CAP consultant scopes, best practices, etc.: StopWaste continues to convene coordination meetings and host content in a centrally accessible format.

Aligned Post-2020 Vision

Whereas across jurisdictions the 2020 targets ranged widely (from 15% below a 2010 baseline to 36% below a 2005 baseline), the planned 2030 and 2050 targets are more closely aligned, typically 40% below baseline for 2030, and 80% below baseline for 2050.

Jurisdictions also plan to add similar new elements to their CAPs. Of the 10 jurisdictions that responded to the surveys:

  • 100% plan to address climate change adaptation.  StopWaste has assisted eight jurisdictions with adaptation planning.
  • 60% plan to include consumption base (supply chain) emissions.  StopWaste has created templates and hosted workshops on this topic.
  • 50% plan to address equity issues.  Equity was a prominent theme in the CAP 2.0 workshop discussions.

Common Reasons for Climate Action Planning

The survey responses clearly showed that Alameda County jurisdictions wish to continue to lead and make the greatest GHG reduction impact as possible. This is in contrast to other parts of California, where state-driven mandates and incentives may be the biggest motivators for local climate actions.

Lessons Learned from CAP 1.0

The first generation of CAPs contained on average 30+ measures designed to incrementally reduce emissions, adding up to a reduction target. Workshop discussions revealed key insights for CAP 2.0 design and sector-level strategies.

CAP 2.0 Design

  • Reduce the number of measures, and build in flexibility to accommodate technological advances
  • Target deep reductions through comprehensive and systemic changes, not incremental measures
  • Design measures so that implementation metrics can be monitored (not only total emissions, as these have been found to be unreliable and reflect trends other than local action)
  • Specify required implementation resources to carry out the plan

Energy Sector

Whereas CAP 1.0 measures focused on individual energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems (solar panels), CAP 2.0 requires a systemic and sophisticated understanding of the complex interconnections of a clean-energy building stock. New focus areas include electrification to remove natural gas, and grid-support needs such as energy storage and time-of-use considerations. The Energy Council added these topics as priorities in 2016.

Transportation Sector

Market forces and technological advances – such as electric and autonomous vehicles – will shape the transportation sector beyond what can be predicted or directed by local government. Jurisdictions should focus on their unique functions such as parking policies and public infrastructure, and ensure that quality of life and equity issues are not overlooked.

Waste Sector

For landfill emissions, the focus continues to be on organics. Greater emphasis across materials is being placed on strategies that prevent waste and encourage low-carbon consumption options. Upstream strategies address the life-cycle emissions of materials, which are gaining broader awareness through consumption-based emissions inventories. This emphasis aligns with StopWaste’s 2016-2018 priorities.

Jurisdiction Staff Reports

Jurisdiction staff reported that different factors influenced the success of each measure. Common themes did emerge across measures and jurisdictions. Most report lacking adequate staffing and funding to execute CAP measures. Political will was a significant barrier or enabler depending on elected officials’ support and action, or lack thereof. Grant funding and vocal community groups were the most common enablers. They also cited that regional assistance – partnerships, regional programs run on their behalf, and coordination to leverage each other’s initiatives – helped them overcome barriers. StopWaste has facilitated or directly implemented several of these regional efforts, and will continue supporting its member agencies in this role.

For more information about Climate Action Planning, contact Miya Kitahara at