Local climate plans in practice : evaluating strategies and measuring progress in five U.S. cities

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Date

2012-08

Authors

Ward, Paul T.

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Abstract

Local climate action plans have become more prevalent in recent years yet information on their success is limited. While unlikely, on their own, to be able to mitigate enough carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic impacts of global temperature increase, local climate planning has the potential to play an important role in a number of key ways. Cities have traditionally exercised control in areas that have GHG abatement potential at low cost (e.g. building codes, land use, energy procurement) and the total population represented by cities committed to GHG reduction efforts is not insignificant and continues to grow. The extent to which local climate plans can serve as a meaningful element in a larger (but currently woefully inadequate) policy picture, will depend on their ability to set aggressive goals, dedicate resources, test innovative strategies, and measure progress systematically. Looking at the plans and progress reports of five U.S. cities, many have set aggressive goals and created innovative programs that could be replicated at other levels of government, but most are somewhat lacking in measuring and reporting progress metrics and financial resources committed to these efforts. For local climate planning to contribute significantly to broader climate policy, it will need to develop more rigorous progress metrics so the highest yield, lowest cost abatement strategies can be identified and advanced in other cities and at higher levels of government.

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