Publication Detail

Assessing the Three Es—Environment, Economy, and Equity—in Climate Action Plans


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Suggested Citation:
Lozano, Mark, Alissa Kendall, Gwen Arnold, John T. Harvey, Ali A. Butt (2022) Assessing the Three Es—Environment, Economy, and Equity—in Climate Action Plans. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-22-16

The range of efforts to address climate change can span from international collaboration to personal action. This study looksat environmental efforts at the localjurisdictional level. Over the last decade, cities and counties have released climate action plans (CAPs) to set emissions reduction targets and outline actions that will help meet those goals. However, the range of information included in CAPs varies dramatically across jurisdictions. This study examines CAPs released by jurisdictions in California, focusing on the quantity and quality of information presented on the expected GHG emissions reduction, cost, and equity impacts of proposed climate actions. This research develops a framework to assess their inclusion, which could also be used to guide future CAP development, and develops a set of guiding questions to promote the inclusion of equity themes in climate action planningand implementation. To gaugethe current state of climate action by local jurisdictions, a survey was implemented to better understand the (i) relative consideration of factors in climate action planning and implementation, (ii) factors which affectthe inclusion of equity in climateaction, (iii) the primary sources of funding for CAP implementation, and (iv) which factors affect the likelihood that an action is implemented. The survey found that, of the considered factors, expected emissions reduction is considered most during planning and implementation, while external impacts are considered the least. When comparing factors between planning and implementation, cost is significantly more important during implementation. For both phases, equity impacts received averagelevels of consideration. Free responses revealed that recent pushes by community members has encouraged local jurisdictions to include more equity themes in their climate planning. However, lifecycle equity, which considers local impacts across the lifecycle of an action, and thus beyond jurisdictional borders, is considered infeasible due to resource limitations and beyond the scope of local planning. Better equity planning would require systemic change at the jurisdiction, industry, state, and federal levels.

Key words: Local government, Climate action plan, Life cycle assessment, Equity