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Local Climate Action Plans

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Climate change — sometimes referred to as global warming — has emerged in recent years as an important focus of local planning.Cities and counties are choosing to address the causes and consequences of climate change for a variety of reasons, including public health.Some of the potential health effects of climate change in California include increased heat-related deaths (especially in the rapidly growing inland valley and desert regions); higher risks of death and injury from more severe flooding, fires and storms; increased air pollution; and changes in the distribution or characteristicsof infectious diseases and their carriers.36

In recent years cities and counties have begun to develop plans for reducing the generation of greenhouse gases that leads to climate change and to address the potential risks and hazards that rapid climate change can pose to local communities. Commonly referred to as climate action plans, these efforts take a variety of forms and approaches. Land-use and transportation strategies often include efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled, manage transportation demand and improve the jobs-housing balance.

Communities can use a climate action plan as a tool to understand how risks to health may change in the future and what steps can be taken to ensure that health risks are managed, reduced or avoided. The plans also provide insight into various co-benefits, including those related to individual and community health and well-being, which can result from strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing climate conditions.

Climate action plans typically include an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions within the community, an emissions target, and a series of actions and goals the community proposes to take to reduce emissions. Such plans may also include an assessment of the hazards posed by climate change, such as flood risks from rising water levels, effects on water quality and supply, or the number and severity of wildfires, along with measures the community and its residents can take to address the hazards.

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