Building on the state’s long history of energy efficiency and environmental policy leadership, California committed to climate action in 2006 when it adopted AB 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act. The law commits California to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and Executive Order S-3-05 commits California to reducing emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. California furthered its commitment to climate action in 2008 with the passage of SB 375, which calls for coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable communities. Numerous other laws, regulations, and local norms have put California at the forefront of climate action. Many entities within California also recognize that mitigation efforts are not enough. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, steps are now being taken to protect against climate impacts that are already occurring.
Cities and Counties
California cities, counties, and special districts play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping the state of California reach the targets set under AB 32 and the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Cities and counties also play a critical role in adapting to climate change. Local governments have large influence and authority over many planning, development, municipal, and community activities that can significantly affect greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, local governments can often move more swiftly than state and federal government bodies.
City and county areas of authority and influence include:
- Visible and consistent commitment from the highest levels of local government through every department and activity.
- Reducing energy use and shifting to clean energy (e.g., fleet vehicles, buildings and equipment).
- Land use decisions including urban growth boundaries, zoning, transit-oriented development and green spaces.
- Transportation policies and infrastructure including public transit and bicycling.
- Building codes and other local ordinances, which establish mandates for action.
- Municipal utilities and/or investor-owned utilities.
- Local programs that help businesses and residents reduce their emissions.
- Public outreach providing inspiration, information and incentives.
Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition
The Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition’s quick embrace of the goals of AB 32, and our linkage of the regional, cross-economy impacts of the AB 32 Scoping Plan to issues such as utility energy efficiency programs and community choice aggregation has been well-received and acknowledged.
The work that we have done before the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and particularly the California Public Utilities Commission has resulted in greater emphasis from State policy makers on opportunities for engaging local governments in planning and implementing strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition is active before the California Air Resources Board on the importance of opportunities for local governments to participate in cap and trade programs as part of the State’s effort to combat climate change. Our members use the LGSEC network to inform one another of key climate change issues before the Legislature, as well.