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Climate Action Whitepapers & Tip Sheets

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Primers, issue briefs and other short pieces on climate action.

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Addressing Climate Change: Ideas for Youth Commissions

This is the second in a series of Briefing Papers for youth commissions and councils that provide background information and ideas for commission member activities and actions on topics of concern to youth and their communities.

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Bright Ideas for Connecting Youth and Sustainability

Local agencies throughout California are helping empower their community’s youth to make a difference while learning about sustainability.

See whitepaper at right for download.

This whitepaper originally appeared as an article in the September 2013 issue of Western City magazine.
 

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Calculating Carbon Emissions

This whitepaper explains the concepts behind calculating greenhouse gas (or carbon dioxide) emissions from different activities.

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Celebrating Local Leadership in Sustainability

Over the past two years, the Institute for Local Government’s Climate Change program has been busy collecting examples of how California local agencies are leading the way to incorporate sustainability measures in their operations, facilities, planning, policies and community activities.Whether the topic is energy efficiency in new and existing agency buildings, using rubberized asphalt on local streets and roads, adopting a green purchasing policy or incorporating smart growth and green building principles in new development — to name just a few — California communities demonstrate impressive creativity and vision.

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Climate Change and Public Health: An Overview for Local Officials

This paper looks at the relationship between climate change and public health and provides strategies to consider to meet the potential public health impacts of climate change.

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The Co-benefits of Sustainability Strategies

The phrases “Buy one, get one free,” “Kill two birds with one stone” and “It’s a two-fer” are part of our everyday language. How do these common phrases relate to sustainability? Virtually all of the strategies that promote sustainability have more than one benefit — also referred to as co-benefits. In many cases, they provide much more than just a “two-fer.” Sustainability strategies save money, conserve resources for future generations, improve public health, respond to climate change and make communities more attractive places to live.

See whitepaper at right for download.

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Evaluating Green Fleet Options

Cities and counties throughout California are considering adopting policies and programs to “green” their fleets by purchasing fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles. While many agencies already have experience in this area, some local officials have questions regarding green fleet options.

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Evaluating Greenhouse Gas Emissions as Part of California’s Environmental Review (CEQA) Process: A Local Official’s Guide

This guide provides information about California law related to evaluating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of California’s environmental review (CEQA) process. It is written for the busy local official and others seeking a plain language explanation of the requirements. It includes endnotes for those who want more detailed information or references to the law.

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Financial Resources to Support Energy Efficiency

This whitepaper discusses incentives to cover energy-efficiency projects in local agency buildings and available to business and residential customers

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Financing Energy Efficiency: Options and Issues to Consider

Like any investment, efforts to finance energy-efficiency projects benefit from thinking ahead about the pros and cons of different options. This paper discusses options and issues related to financing energy efficiency.

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Financing Local Sustainability Efforts

This whitepaper offers resources to identify funding sources and key issues to consider related to financing local sustainability efforts.

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Greener Buildings Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Each year, buildings throughout California are the second largest contributor to the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, using enough energy to account for nearly 125 million metric tons – roughly 25 percent — of the state’s annual GHG emissions. Taking action to make buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly helps conserve resources and lower a community’s share of the emissions that lead to climate change.

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ILG Sample Climate-Friendly Purchasing Policy

The Institute’s sample Climate-Friendly Purchasing policy focuses on purchasing practices that help address climate change. Climate-friendly purchasing is the procurement or acquisition of goods and services that are a lesser or reduced source of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with competing goods or services that serve the same purpose.

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Involving Youth in Your Agency’s Sustainability Activities

Local agencies use a variety of methods to involve young people in local government. Many cities and counties have active youth commissions or youth councils. As local agencies embrace sustainability goals, new opportunities emerge to engage young people. Whether the sustainability activities involve energy efficiency, planning for a more bike-friendly downtown, responding to climate change or updating a General Plan, local agencies throughout California can benefit by including youth as part of the process.

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Moving Toward Fuel-Efficient and Alternative-Fuel Fleets: 10 Questions Local Officials Should Ask

Increasing fuel prices and tightening budget constraints have many local officials exploring a transition to fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles. Using alternative-fuel vehicles is also a key element of local agency efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and combat climate change in their own operations and throughout the community.

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Recognizing Leadership

Cities and counties throughout California are participating in the Institute for Local Government’s sustainability and climate change recognition program, the Beacon Award: Local Leadership Toward Solving Climate Change. Launched in August 2010 as the first of its kind in California, the Beacon Award recognizes and celebrates cities and counties that:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Save energy;
  • Adopt policies and programs to address climate change; and
  • Promote sustainability.
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Regional Partnerships Provide Leadership

Partnerships among public, private and nonprofit groups are nothing new, and examples abound. However, innovative partnerships that build capacity to address sustainability, energy efficiency, climate change and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are relatively new. Two examples illustrate the creativity and vibrancy of these efforts.

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Sample Commercial Recycling Ordinance

Sample Commercial Recycling Ordinance

This sample commercial recycling ordinance, prepared in 2009 by the Institute for Local Government’s climate change program, offers policy choices to consider. It can be modified to reflect unique community circumstances and issues.

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Spotlighting Energy Efficiency in California Communities

As California’s communities seek ways to maximize resources in economically challenging times, energy efficiency offers a number of money-saving advantages. Cities and counties are making great strides in reducing energy use at agency facilities through traditional building audits and retrofits. At the same time, they are advancing community energy efficiency through collaboration and outreach activities.

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Sustainability and Economic Development Go Hand in Hand
May 2010

As California communities struggle to rebuild their budgets and local economies, it’s helpful to consider the contributions that can be made by investing in sustainability policies, programs and projects. California’s green technology boom has both economic development and sustainability implications statewide.

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Sustainability’s Many Faces: Beacon Award Program Participants Create Vibrant Communities

Sustainability is all about making communities more livable — creating healthy, dynamic places to live and work while simultaneously saving money, energy and resources and helping the local economy. Cities and counties throughout California are demonstrating leadership in creating active, lively communities by adopting policies and programs that support sustainability. This diverse range of activities brightens the future of their communities.

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Sustaining Your Sustainability Programs

Finding the funds to support worthwhile programs presents a challenge in the best of times. This challenge is compounded when local budgets are stretched as tightly as they are today. Nevertheless, many local agencies continue to support activities and programs to make their communities more sustainable, believing that investing in sustainability leads to healthier communities and improved economic vitality while saving money, conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.

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Today’s Youth: Tomorrow’s Green Workforce
September 2012

Green training programs that focus on youth also contribute to local economies and job expansion. This whitepaper highlights a number of innovative programs throughout California.

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Understanding the Basics of Climate Change Cap and Trade: An Overview for Local Officials

This whitepaper provides a general overview of the concept of cap-and-trade as it relates to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also offers information about key issues of interest to local officials and suggests resources to learn more.

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Using Economic Development to Support Sustainability
May 2011

The question of how to make local agencies more sustainable is an ongoing issue for local officials. Sustainable communities are places that foster and maintain a high quality of life. This whitepaper highlights the experiences of two California communities: City of Riverbank and City of Pleasanton.

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Figure 1: Regional Differences in Public's Views of Local Agencies' Climate Change Actions

What Does the Public Really Think About Climate Change?

As local officials contemplate how best to plan their communities’ actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, they consider what their residents think about these issues. To assist in these efforts, it can be instructive to take a look at what we know about the public’s views on climate change.

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Working with Energy Utilities to Finance Energy-Efficiency Improvements

Local agencies throughout California are striving to reduce costs, even as the demand for services grows. In this environment, improving efficiency helps agencies do more with their existing resources and can offer a high return on investment. This whitepaper offers suggestions on working with energy utilities to finance energy efficiency improvements.

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Working With Local Businesses to Increase Recycling

While residential recycling has become mainstream, the bigger challenge ahead for local governments is to increase recycling by retail, service, office and industrial businesses.

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