Add your voice to our December Thunderclap for the new Rainwater Book
Community climate action plan
Here is a fun project for you. It is one you can almost do at home. But not quite -- you'll need to work with your community and local officials. The benefits of you getting involved are HUGE!. Read on.
Among the ways each of us can help solve global warming is to promote real planning and real action by our local government. The time is now to start or move forward with your city's climate action plan. How can you as an individual help make this happen? It's easier than you would think. Below you will find resources for organizing in your community and getting assistance with implementing a community Climate Action Plan.
Sierra Club Cool Cities
One good place to start with community climate protection planning is the Sierra Club Cool Cities Campaign. Browse around the Cool Cities website if you want, but early on, read the Cool Cities Toolkit document (35-pages, PDF). Pages 1 through 15 describe a 10-step process for organizing and promoting in your community. In the appendix are sample media material, sample letters to the mayor, etc. Your goals can include each of the following:
- Have your mayor sign the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement
- Identify and implement now a number of easy, cost-effective climate protection solutions in your community
- Create a comprehensive Climate Action Plan for your community
The Cool Cities Toolkit refers to two other Cool Cities documents that you might find worthwhile:
Tip: Take time to study and understand the Cool Cities Toolkit 10-step process. Learn the steps well enough so that you can describe them to another person.
Tip: Is there already a Cool Cities campaign in your community? If so, join in. If not, start one. If there is already group is it active and moving forward? If needed, help to re-energize it.
Several additional suggestions:
- The Cool Cities Toolkit 10-step process represents general guidelines. In Step 1, you form or join an initial core group of organizers. It is important that this group write down your local campaign plan which is specific to your community.
- If you are getting resistance to change because of local government budget constraints, focus on actions your city can take that save taxpayer dollars and reduce residential and business energy costs.
- In larger cities, consider starting with your city council representative, alderman, etc. Does your council representative support climate protection action? Meet with your council representative and offer to start or join a ward/district environmental advisory committee.
- Places to look for participants in your initial core group of organizers include faith groups, environmental groups, and colleges. Do a web search for your community including search terms such as global warming, climate protection, environment, green, etc. Check for existing global warming, climate change, and environmental groups in your community in networking sites such as: yahoo groups, google groups, meetup, facebook, WiserEarth, etc.
The U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement is a pledge a community can make to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. So far, 900 communities have signed the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. The Mayors' agreement is not a substitute for creating a community Climate Action Plan, but is a good first step for moving towards a comprehensive plan. Look here to determine whether your mayor has signed the pledge. Suggestions for how to move forward with a Mayor's Agreement include:
- If your community is listed as a signee, then the question is: How are we doing? Is the commitment prominient on your city's website? To fullfil this commitment a community needs a Climate Action Plan. What is the status of the plan? Is the city using a transparent, open process to monitor progress and report results?
- If your community is not listed, then find out what the commitment level is by the mayor and city officials. Use a process like the Cool Cities Toolkit to organize to gain a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a link to sign on to the Mayors' Agreement. Note that as we are getting closer to the year 2012, a city may not be able to achieve the 2012 goal stated in the Mayors' Agreement, and your community may instead need to adopt an adjusted set of goals that is as aggressive as is feasible for your community.
Climate Action Plan
A community Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a comprehensive framework for climate protection action by a community and typically includes the following sections:
- Greenhouse gas emissions baseline inventory and forecast
- Greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and timeline
- Outline of solutions and policies to reduce emissions
- Implementation plans for solutions and policies
- Plans to measure and report progress
Here are sample Climate Action Plans:
- City of Seattle Green Ribbon Commission Report
- City of Burlington, VT Climate Action Plan
- City of Boulder, CO Climate Action Plan
Cool Cities has resources to help you initiate a Climate Action Plan in your community, including:
- Cool Cities Implementation Sheet (3 pages) - provides useful guidelines for creating a community Climate Action Plan, including getting started, joining ICLEI or STAPPA/ALAPCO, downloading CACP software, and creating and monitoring the plan.
- Cool Cities Solutions Guide (14 pages) - examples of specific actions cities are taking in the areas of Green Vehicles Solutions, Energy Efficiency Solutions, and Renewable Energy Solutions
Software, Training and Support
You really need software to help with measuring, analyzing and reporting on GHG emissions for your community. Here are several software tools and support resources to consider.
- Clean Air and Climate Protection (CACP) Software This is a GHG emissions management tool that was co-developed by NACAA and ICLEI. It helps local governments create greenhouse gas inventories and model the benefits of emissions reduction actions. ICLEI offers software, consulting and other resources to assist a community implement climate protection actions. For more information see http://www.cacpsoftware.org and http://www.iclei.org/usa.
- NACAA (National Association of Clean Air Agencies) You can also download the CACP software through NACAA (formerly STAPPA and ALAPCO). Note that NACAA also provides useful state and local air agencies information.
- Climate Registry Information System (CRIS) - this software is the Climate Registry’s online GHG calculation, reporting, and verification tool. CRIS also provides public access to the Registry’s verified emission reports. The Climate Registry provides standards for businesses and governments to calculate, verify and publicly report their carbon footprints in a single, unified registry. Click on the map on the home page see activity in your state.
Your Community Can Do It
So, how much effort is requried to create a community Climate Action Plan? It is not all that hard. For measuring current greenhouse gas emissions, mostly what your local government needs to do is gather together information it already has available and enter it into software such as CACP. The software will help you with analyzing the baseline data, setting emission goals, and choosing remediation actions. If your community has a population of 50,000 or less, perhaps it will take an intern a couple of months, maybe less, to gather information and load it in the software, and generate an initial set of reports for review. Your community can establish a green ribbon commission to help with analysis of the data and setting of goals and actions. Contact ICLEI for assistance with estimating the effort and cost to create your community climate action plan. The costs for doing this will be paid for many times over in municipal and residential energy savings. ... And, you'll be helping to save the planet for future generations!
Connecting with Appropriate Technology Projects
Let's say you're doing an Appropriate Technology (AT) project on almost anything: a trailer for a bike, permaculture, greywater system, and on and on. Many, if not most, of the projects described in Appropedia help to directly or indirectly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Think about scalability and how your project applies to the current or future Climate Action Plan for your community, and also the plans for other communities. What if widespread use is made of your project? Can you estimate the savings of GHG emissions achieved by using the technology you are employing? Does expanded use of your project help your community meet emission reduction goals stated in the community Climate Action Plan? Look for the connections between your AT project and climate protection planning in your community.
- http://www.seattle.gov/climate/govResources.htm - climate protection resouces for local governments.
- Wikipedia: Individual and political action on climate change. This is an interesting, eclectic list of various climate change protocols, organizations, campaigns, initiatives, coalitions, movements and lifestyle programs, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Greenpolicy State Category Use this link as one source to determine what green policy, resolutions and ordinances have been adopted in your state.