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About Us

The ClimatePlan partnership works to improve land use and transportation planning to protect Californians’ health, communities, environment, and climate.

The coalition was formed in 2007 by 11 non-profits; it now includes more than 50.
(Learn more about how we began below.)

Our partners represent a broad range of interests, from public health experts to farmland preservationists — but we are all dedicated to smart planning and a sustainable future.

Mission and Vision

Our mission is to advance policies and programs to address the relationship between land use policy and climate change, and leverage the resources and partnerships necessary to realize more sustainable and equitable development throughout California.

We envision a healthier and more vital California that supports sustainable and equitable communities, preserves iconic landscapes, and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Guiding Principles

In fulfilling its mission and vision, ClimatePlan embraces the following principles to guide this work:

Advance Pragmatic Policy Solutions: Policy solutions should be both visionary and pragmatic, advancing innovative ideas and best practices while being grounded in the reality of existing trends.
– Find Common Ground:
We believe that focusing on shared priorities and areas of common ground is the best way to achieve our goals. We are committed to bringing together diverse stakeholders around policy solutions that will help all our partners advance their goals.
– Build a Long-Lasting Movement:
Planning is a long-term endeavor, and all communities and regions should have informed, engaged organizations that are working to monitor and shape growth over the long-term. We will work to build enduring capacity among local smart growth advocates in the regions where we work.
– Promote Policies that Protect and Improve Public Health:
We will advocate for policies that promote walking, bicycling, and reduced driving, resulting in more active lifestyles, better air quality, and safer streets.
– Advance Solutions that Increase Social Equity and Environmental Justice:
All communities, particularly low-income communities, must have the opportunity to benefit from California’s growth. We will advance policies that address mobility, jobs, and affordability and protect existing residents and local businesses from displacement.
– Protect Areas Where Growth Should Not Occur:
Forests, agricultural areas, important watershed areas and wildlife habitat should be protected from development. We will promote policy tools that quantify the GHG benefits of preserving these areas and create incentives for preservation.
– Increase Community Participation in Planning:
Planning at both the local and regional levels is more effective when there is meaningful community participation throughout all phases of the process. In particular, under-represented communities need to be engaged in long-term planning.
– Help Local Governments Move Ahead:
Cities, counties and MPOs need financial support to plan and implement VMT reduction strategies. We are committed to establishing, restoring and expanding funding for these efforts.
– Amplify Synergies:
The linkages between state, federal and regional smart growth campaigns – and the people working on them – have never been stronger. We strive to recognize these connections and utilize them to add value to the work of organizations at all levels, from the neighborhood to the national.

How We Began

In response to the need for coordinated action on AB 32 — California’s ground-breaking climate law — eleven environmental and planning non-profit groups came together as ClimatePlan in early 2007. Their goal was to make clear that to achieve AB 32’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the state needed to explicitly address land use and transportation.

ClimatePlan’s founding members were American Farmland Trust, California Center for Regional Leadership, California League of Conservation Voters, Center for Clean Air Policy, Greenbelt Alliance, Local Government Commission, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Forest Trust, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club, and the Transportation and Land Use Coalition (now TransForm). The fiscal sponsor of ClimatePlan is TransForm. A small seed grant from the San Francisco Foundation got the network started.

ClimatePlan’s first goal was to get AB 32 implementation to address land use in a meaningful way. The draft AB 32 Scoping Plan was very weak on land use, with a target of just 2 million metric tons (2 MMT) of greenhouse gas reductions by 2020. In response, ClimatePlan commissioned a national expert, Reid Ewing, to more accurately estimate the reductions possible from smart growth. His analysis demonstrated that a target of 11-14 MMT was achievable and advisable. In advocacy and outreach, ClimatePlan called for this much higher target, and dozens of organizations endorsed our position. Thanks in part to ClimatePlan’s organizing efforts, land use became one of the most high-profile components of the AB 32 Scoping Plan process.

Finally, in response to our campaign, in September 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 375. This landmark law created a policy framework and a political mandate for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land use. SB 375 requires every region in the state to have a target for these reductions. The state Air Resources Board committed to adopting “the most ambitious, achievable” targets, which were adopted in 2010.

Our work has continued around the plans to meet these regional targets, called Sustainable Communities Strategies.

The challenge continues to be to get SB 375 successfully implemented – and to expand on it to meet new challenges.

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