The scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate is changing, that humans are the primary drivers of this change, and that this could have disastrous impacts has created a call for immediate and clear action. Communities all over the globe are responding by making plans that assess their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and specify actions they will take to reduce these emissions. Although the specific names for these plans vary, they are generally referred to as climate action plans.
Climate action plans (CAPs) are strategic plans that establish policies and programs for mitigating (i.e., reducing) a community’s greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. They typically focus on transportation and energy use and may differentiate between community-wide actions and municipal agency actions. CAPs are usually based on GHG emissions inventories which identify the sources of emissions from the community and quantify the amounts. Additionally, many CAPs now include a section addressing how the community will respond to the impacts of climate change on the community such as sea-level rise, increasing flooding, and change in ecological processes; this is usually referred to a climate adaptation.