Municipal climate action planning : barriers and best practices
The rapid acceleration of climate change has had devastating impacts across the globe, including a rise in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, leading to an urgent need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our future climate by creating and implementing climate action plans. Despite the need for immediate action, cities are facing barriers which limit their success in climate action planning (CAP). In this paper I explore the barriers municipalities face, and best practices for overcoming barriers in developing and implementing climate action plans. Through an extensive literature review and conducting interviews with planners in five U.S. cities (Austin, TX; San Diego, CA; Tampa, FL; Cincinnati, OH; and Washington, DC), I identified barriers to CAP, as well as best practices for overcoming barriers according to planners who have participated in the development and/or implementation of municipal climate action plans. Based on the literature and interviews I synthesized all barriers and best practices into categories (political, institutional, resources, meaningful community engagement/support, and lack of climate information) and identified corresponding best practices that would help overcome the barriers identified across the individual interviews. For over half of the barriers for which a corresponding best practice was raised the corresponding best practice was provided by a planner in a different city, indicating the potential value of identifying from the start any foreseeable barriers and best practices for overcoming them based on the experiences of planners in the implementation phase. Political support, resources, and lack of climate information were less strong barriers in practice than in the literature for these five planners, and by far the strongest barriers were institutional, followed by community engagement. The results of this study may be useful for climate planners as they begin their CAP process in order to avoid barriers and use the identified strategies to overcome them.