Climate Mitigation Planning: Are Plans with Policy Tools Measurably More Effective?

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Zakas, Chelsea
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A climate action plan is the ultimate tool used by cities in their efforts to combat climate change. Climate action plans are used by cities as a guide to reduce their contribution of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Within a climate action plan it is common to find record of the city’s current emissions; information on the risks the city faces in a changing climate; goals and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions often broken down into sectors such as electricity, industry, and transportation; suggestions on how to reduce GHG emissions; and policy recommendations needed to achieve reductions. I analyzed ten climate action plans using a unique scoring mechanism to answer the question: Are climate mitigation plans with policy tools measurably more effective than plans without? The plans were chosen based off three criteria: 1) The climate action plan must be focused on mitigation strategies or include a mitigation component, as op posed to adaptation 2) The city represents one of the four regions of the U.S. as defined by the Census Bureau 3) The climate action plan must have been published at least three years prior to this report. Results from the analysis found that policy tools may not always equate to action. However, policy recommendations contributed to higher scores overall, therefore this study suggests climate action plans with policy tools are measurably more effective than plans without. The end of this study offers recommendations on how climate action plans can be most effective.
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