Climate Action Plan Details

City of Woodland Climate Action Plan

What Is a Climate Action Plan?

A climate action plan is a planning document that provides strategies for reducing communitywide energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), also commonly referred to as a “carbon footprint,” are those gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and others--that trap heat in the atmosphere. The buildup of GHGs can change Earth's climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems. Much scientific evidence indicates that human activities have contributed substantially to climate change since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, by adding CO2 and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere and causing Earth’s surface temperature to rise. Scientists have identified GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as the primary human activity affecting the amount and rate of climate change.

California Assembly Bill 32, signed into law in 2006, committed the state to reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. To meet this goal, the state encourages local communities to reduce GHG emissions by 15% from current (“baseline”) levels by 2020. Year 2005 emission levels are used as the standard baseline to represent “current” levels.

A local climate action plan is based on the premise that local governments and the communities they represent are uniquely capable of addressing many of the major sources of emissions within their jurisdictions. Local climate action plans typically address an array of activities and planning practices that directly or indirectly affect GHG formation and emission. The main focuses of GHG-reduction strategies are often transportation modes and patterns, land uses, and electricity generation and use, but many other contributing activities and processes are considered as well.

A climate action plan generally includes:

  • an estimate of current (“baseline”) GHG emissions attributable to community activities,
  • a projection of future emissions under a "business-as-usual" scenario,
  • future GHG reduction targets, and
  • a community-based set of strategies to reduce future GHG emissions to reach the targets. 

Effective implementation of a Climate Action Plan also includes regularly and consistently calculating the community’s GHG emissions and progress toward its targets over time, and implementing adaptive strategies as needed—i.e., adjusting policies and activities to adapt to changing conditions and new information.

Who Is Involved in Woodland’s Climate Action Plan Development? 

The climate action plan project is being funded by PG&E’s Green Communities Program, with funding being administered by Yolo Energy Watch, the Yolo County-PG&E local government partnership.

The technical work is being conducted by a select group of students from the UCD Sustainable Design Academy under the direction of Dr. Deb Niemeier, a renowned climate change authority and UCD Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Staff members of the City’s Planning and Environmental Services Divisions are overseeing the project, leading the public involvement activities, and coordinating project efforts with the City Council Sustainability Committee (formerly the Energy Committee).

An informal “stakeholders planning group” was formed at project initiation to help build community awareness of and participation in the plan development effort and to ensure input from key community groups. Included are the members of the Sustainability Committee and representatives of the Woodland Planning and Historical Preservation Commissions, the Water Utility Advisory Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the North Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Historic Woodland Downtown Business Association, Yolo County Board of Realtors, Pacific Coast Producers, Dignity Healthcare, Woodland Community College, Woodland Joint Unified School District, Supervisors Chamberlain and Rexroad, Yolo County Health Council, the League of Women Voters, Tuleyome,  Woodland Tree Foundation, and the Springlake Homeowners group.

Community members are being invited to provide input at all stages of the project. See How Can You Participate? for ways to provide input.

What can a Climate Action Plan do for Woodland? - Relationship to Other City Planning and Project Review Processes

The climate action plan will establish GHG-reduction targets that are consistent with state-established goals and will provide options for achieving those targets. It is intended to provide the community with a well-defined planning framework related to energy efficiency and climate change effects, streamline future projects’ compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and provide the business community with greater certainty about planning and permitting requirements.

General plans are now required to address climate change impacts and adaptation policies. The City will incorporate GHG-reduction strategies identified in the climate action plan into its policies and programs in a general plan update, including those related to land use and infrastructure planning, transportation and circulation, and building design. GHG reduction measures incorporated into the general plan may, in turn, be incorporated into the zoning ordinance.

The State CEQA Guidelines now require analysis and mitigation of GHG emissions for proposed projects. This analysis is currently handled in Woodland on a case-by-case basis. CEQA review and permitting may be streamlined for projects that are consistent with a “qualified” climate action plan. A qualified climate action plan is one that meets criteria contained in section 15183.5(b) of the State CEQA Guidelines. Consequently, a climate action plan can provide future project applicants in Woodland with a consistent, predictable, and streamlined approach to climate change analysis and mitigation requirements for CEQA compliance.

In addition, climate action plans and energy-efficiency plans are becoming a requirement for many state and federal grant processes. Adopting and implementing a plan will help the City of Woodland meet these grant application requirements in the future. 

Climate Action Plan Activities to Date and Next Steps

Goal: The City's goal, consistent with state guidance, is to achieve a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below the 2005 baseline by 2020.

Baseline inventory: A first step in Climate Action Plan development was the establishment of the City's 2005 baseline greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory, the "starting point" against which future greenhouse GHG reductions will be compared.

Community Brainstorming: On June 20, 2012, the City hosted a community-wide public “visioning” workshop to introduce the project to the public and gather community input. The purpose and background of the effort were described, UCD Professor Deb Niemeier gave a presentation on climate change and climate action planning, and Woodland’s baseline (2005) GHG emissions inventory was summarized. The attendees were then invited to provide ideas for possible GHG reduction measures. Their brainstorming resulted in many varied ideas, with special emphasis on increasing tree canopy and improving opportunities for safe bicycle riding. Click here for the workshop brainstorming results, along with ideas received through Facebook and emails. Click here to see the handout and photos from the workshop.

Compiling potential strategies: The UCD technical team next compiled an extensive menu of potential GHG-reduction measures that incorporated the community suggestions; where possible, they quantified the measures' GHG reduction potentials.  On August 8, 2012, the City held a second public workshop, where each participant used this information to try to develop his or her own suggested strategy to meet the community's GHG reduction target.

Click on the links below to see the materials from the August 8 workshop:

Putting it together: The City will be working with the UCD team to produce a complete plan for public review in October-November that provides a set of strategies for achieving Woodland's reduction target and reflects community priorities.

How Can You Participate?

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