Climate Action Planning Is Good Community Planning


Why should a local community create and implement a comprehensive policy to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change? According to Michael Boswell, Adrienne Greve, and Tammy Seale, authors of Local Climate Action Planning, “climate action plans have the power not only to reduce vulnerability to the hazards associated with climate change but to position a city to thrive economically, environmentally, and socially well into the future.” 

The authors of Local Climate Action Planning have written the first book of best practices for forming and implementing a Climate Action Plan (CAP). After having worked on over three-dozen CAPs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventories, Boswell, Greve, and Seale wrote this how-to guide for policymakers, planners, designers, and community activists wanting to take action. Now that over 120 city and county CAPs have been completed, this book aims to ensure that future local CAPs are successful in addressing key questions on design and implementation. It’s a clear, yet somewhat dense, tool filled with definitions, case-studies, and informative charts.

The authors argue that community partnerships are critical to the development of a local CAP. Chapters focus on public participation in greenhouse gas emissions inventory, emissions reduction strategies, climate change adaptation strategies, and implementation. What comes through is the critical role the public plays in creating exemplary CAPs. The authors comprehensively flush out critical choices communities face and the approaches and tools they can use. Other chapters deal with leadership, strategic planning, state policies, grant funding, and public awareness.

Each chapter ends with a summary of resources, listed by experts, which summarize the range of books, Web sites, and even software that can be employed by to gain a more-detailed understanding of the issues. 

Overall, the book is both straight-forward and comprehensive in how it outlines the value of CAP processes. “Climate action planning becomes, simply, good community planning.”

From the book, here are some steps your community can take right now:

  • Switch to energy efficient lighting such as CFLs and LEDs
  • Upgrade insulation in older residences, businesses, and government buildings.
  • Install solar panels where feasible.
  • Purchase high-fuel-efficiency and clean fuel vehicles.
  • Start or enhance your recycling program.
  • Provide and promote opportunities for transit, bicycling, and walking.
  • Purchase renewable energy (if available).
  • Conserve water through retrofit of fixtures, low-water landscaping, and rainwater catchment.
  • Plant trees.

Read the book.

Also, find out whether your state has moved forward with a CAP. Check out a map showing states that have completed or are in the process of forming their CAP. Lastly, explore ASLA’s resource guide on climate change, which offers concepts and tools.

This guest post is by Amanda Rosenberg, ASLA 2010 intern.

Image credit: Island Press

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