In response to the need for coordinated action on AB 32, eleven environmental and planning non-profit groups came together as ClimatePlan in early 2007. Their goal was to promote land use and transportation strategies to help achieve AB 32′s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
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.
For the first year, ClimatePlan relied on staff from these partner organizations and a small seed grant from the San Francisco Foundation. In February 2008, ClimatePlan hired a full-time campaign director, Autumn Bernstein, to add structure and capacity to the fast-growing network.
ClimatePlan’s initial focus was ensuring that plans to implement AB 32 included specific policies and a high target for the reduction of emissions from the land use sector. To achieve this goal, we implemented a campaign strategy which included policy analysis and development, outreach to key decision makers, generating media coverage, and expanding the network of organizations that make up ClimatePlan.
When the draft AB 32 Scoping Plan was released in June 2008, it contained very weak language around land use and a conservative target of just 2 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions by 2020. ClimatePlan responded by commissioning a national expert, Reid Ewing, to more accurately determine the potential GHG reductions from smart growth strategies. His analysis demonstrated that a target of 11-14 MMT was achievable and advisable, and this became the basis for ClimatePlan’s policy platform and organizing efforts.
Dozens of organizations endorsed ClimatePlan’s position, and the land use sector received more comments than any other sector in the Scoping Plan, including cap and trade. 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.
In September 2008 – at the height of our campaign – Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, establishing both a policy framework and a political mandate for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from land use. SB 375 established its own process for setting greenhouse gas reduction goals for every major region in the state, and CARB committed to adopting “the most ambitious, achievable” targets. Regional targets were adopted by the ARB on September 23, 2010
With SB 375 now in place, advocates in California face a new challenge: successfully implementing – and expanding upon – the framework established by SB 375. Whether or not the new law achieves its goals will depend upon coordinated and thoughtful action to ensure that planning and funding policies at every level – state, federal, and local – support its success.