Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are those gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others) that trap heat in the atmosphere. The buildup of GHGs in earth's atmosphere causes changes in regional and global climate patterns, which can result in impacts on the health and welfare of humans, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and other environmental and societal factors.
California Assembly Bill 32
California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), signed into law in 2006, committed the state to reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Year 2005 emission levels are used as the standard baseline level. Executive Order S-3-05 established a long-term target to reduce emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. More recently, Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) established an interim target to achieve reductions of 50% below 1990 levels by 2030. To meet this goal, the state encourages local communities to reduce GHG emissions by 15% from baseline levels by 2020 and longer term climate change effects must be addressed in General Plans and project environmental reviews.
Local Climate Action Plan
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 emissions. The main focuses of GHG reduction strategies are often electricity generation and use, transportation modes and patterns, and land uses, but many other contributing activities and processes are considered as well.