Climate Action Planning: Progress Report on Southern California

Climate Action Planning: Progress Report on Southern California

J.R. DeShazo and Juan Matute
(2012)

The Southern California Climate Action Progress Report is an assessment of local climate action planning in Southern California. The Progress Report is based on the Southern California Climate Action Information Sharing Network, a new resource that provides cities and stakeholders with access to city climate planning information and allows cities to take credit for actions they’ve taken.

In this report, we show that roughly 1/3rd of Southern California cities have taken some step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We list ten cities whose climate performance stands out.

While Santa Monica is the region’s definitive climate planning leader, many other cities will soon achieve similar levels of climate planning. One of the regions leaders, Apple Valley, is one of many cities in San Bernardino County which have engaged in climate planning activities since the state Attorney General sued the county in 2007 for failing to consider the effects of climate change in its general plan.

THE ROLE OF CALIFORNIA LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Local governments are “essential partners” in California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The California Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32 (2006), establishes a statewide greenhouse gas emissions target to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, which details the state’s efforts to meet its AB 32 greenhouse gas reduction target, calls on local governments to reduce emissions by 15% from 2008 levels by 2020.

While policy debate often focuses on international and national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, local governments also have influence over energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, local amendments to and enforcement of state building codes can affect energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from new and remodeled buildings. Local policy decisions on land use and transportation can influence how residents and visitors travel, and resulting greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles.

Recognizing local governments’ unique influence over a portion of transportation emissions, in 2008 the state legislature passed SB 375. This law requires the Air Resources Board to set regional reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Some Southern California local governments have already amended their general plans to address climate change. In the future, successful SB 375 compliance will require that many local governments change their general plans to facilitate infill development and invest in alternative transportation infrastructure.