Local Government Actions for Climate Change

This page last reviewed October 7, 2013

ARB Climate Change Program Logo California local governments, bookmark this site!  It’s your gateway to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in your jurisdiction and region.

California’s AB 32 Scoping Plan encourages local governments to adopt a GHG emissions reduction goal consistent with the State’s overall goal of reducing Statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (an approximate 15% reduction from today’s levels).  However, since 1990 data on a jurisdictional level may not be available, ARB suggests that local governments set their targets based on today’s levels, using the most current and best available GHG emissions data for their jurisdictions

The Scoping Plan contains the main strategies California will use to reduce the GHGs that cause climate change.  These actions include direct regulations, alternative compliance mechanisms, monetary and non-monetary incentives, voluntary actions, and market-based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade system.  The program is funded by the AB 32 cost of implementation fee regulation.

Local Government Role in Reducing GHG Emissions

Local governments are essential partners in achieving California’s goals to reduce GHGs. They have broad influence and, in some cases, exclusive authority over activities that contribute to significant direct and indirect GHG emissions through their planning and permitting processes, local ordinances, outreach and education efforts, and municipal operations. Many of the measures in the Scoping Plan to reduce GHG emissions rely on local government actions.

Local Government Climate Action Plans

Local governments can help California meet its AB 32 targets through climate action planning.  To this end, ARB is partnering with other state agencies and organizations to maintain a Local Government Toolkit.  The purpose of the Local Government Toolkit is to provide a “one-stop shop”, or clearinghouse of guidance and resources to assist local governments in reducing GHG emissions and saving money.

A variety of tools are available to assist with climate action planning including information on:
  1. How to calculate and inventory current GHG emissions
  2. A recommended target to reduce GHG emissions
  3. Cost-saving strategies to take action now
  4. Financial resources to get started
  5. Case studies to learn what other cities have been able to accomplish

Phase II of the Toolkit will include a decision support tool to help local governments develop customized climate action plans, a peer-networking online discussion forum, and a climate leadership recognition program to recognize achievements for measured GHG emission reductions.

Local Government Protocols to Inventory GHG Emissions

California local governments are taking an active role in fighting climate change and reducing GHG emissions. ARB partnered with the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR), The Climate Registry (TCR), and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to develop a set of methodologies and data sources to inventory the GHG emissions of their communities and to quantify the impact of local government policies and programs.

Senate Bill 375

The largest contributor to GHG emissions is the transportation sector.  Local governments can help reduce transportation-related GHG emissions through integrated land-use, housing and transportation planning.  California state law (Senate Bill 375 (SB 375), Statutes of 2008) addresses GHG reductions from passenger vehicles through the establishment of regional targets for 2020 and 2035.  If regions develop integrated land use, housing and transportation plans that meet the SB 375 targets, new projects in these regions can be relieved of certain review requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Other Proposed Regulations

The proposed AB 32 Commercial Recycling Regulation, currently under development, will require each local jurisdiction to implement a Commercial Recycling Program by July 1, 2012 that provides education, outreach and monitoring of businesses subject to the regulation.  If a jurisdiction already has a commercial recycling program that meets these criteria it would not be required to implement a new or expanded program.

If your local jurisdiction operates a turbine, process heater, boiler or a waste water treatment plant that emits between 10,000 and 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e.) per year, then you might be required to report your GHG emissions to ARB.  ARB is currently in the process of amending the GHG emission reporting regulation to help improve the statewide inventory and to monitor facilities for the proposed cap-and-trade program. By 2012, the proposed amendments are expected to be finalized.

You can find a complete list of emission reporters, as well as an overview of the program.


For questions or comments, please contact Tabetha Willmon at (916) 324-0664

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