Aligning Local Actions with California's Climate Goals - CivicWell

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Aligning Local Actions with California's Climate Goals

By Shannon Hatcher, Air Pollution Specialist at the California Air Resources Board

Climate Change & Energy


March 1, 2023


In December 2022, the California Air Resources Board approved the third update to the Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality (Scoping Plan Update), as mandated by Assembly Bill (AB) 32. The Scoping Plan Update makes clear that local government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within their jurisdictions are critical to achieving the State’s air quality and climate goals, as local actions consistent with the Scoping Plan help create the necessary conditions for State policies to succeed. Aligning local climate actions with the Scoping Plan also helps to focus GHG reduction efforts where they are most needed. However, the benefit of climate action is not a one-way street: local jurisdictions also benefit when taking climate action, as efforts to reduce GHGs within a community can result in direct benefits to that local community, including improved air quality and public health, decreased wildfire risk, and other environmental benefits, as well as improved quality of life and economic benefits. Local climate action also serves as an opportunity to advance equity and address racial and environmental justice, which are key considerations of the Scoping Plan, within local communities. Local government institutions are well-positioned to take on a portfolio of integrated strategies where housing policies can be designed to address climate goals while designing climate policies to meet housing needs.

Appendix D, Local Actions, of the 2022 Scoping Plan Update provides recommendations to help local partners take ambitious, coordinated climate action at the community-scale that is consistent with, and supportive of, the state’s climate goals. It provides guidance to local jurisdictions for preparing climate action plans (CAP), including considerations for aligning local GHG reductions targets with State climate goals and the three priority areas where local climate action has the greatest GHG reduction potential: 1) building decarbonization, 2) transportation electrification, and 3) reductions in regional vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The Scoping Plan Update recommends that local jurisdictions adopt a CAP which meets the criteria in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines Section 15183.5 (i.e., is “CEQA- qualified”). Even if a jurisdiction is unable to prepare a CEQA-qualified CAP, the Scoping Plan’s three priority areas can be used as reference points when developing local climate plans, measures, policies, and actions.

In addition to providing local climate action recommendations, the Scoping Plan Update provides additional guidance related to CEQA. These recommendations outline multiple approaches for evaluating the alignment of residential and mixed-use development projects to State climate goals and includes a qualitative approach based on whether these projects include key attributes that facilitate reductions of GHG emissions and regional VMT in a manner consistent with the Scoping Plan’s three
priority areas. Some of these residential project attributes include all-electric construction, elimination
of parking requirements, transportation-efficient location, and at least 20 percent affordable units. And
lastly, the Scoping Plan update provides guidance on how projects can mitigate their GHG impacts pursuant to CEQA in a manner consistent with State climate goals.

To download a copy of the 2022 Scoping Plan Update, please visit