Best planning and implementation toolbox

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plans:

Purpose of Tool:
Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans are action plans developed by local governments to reduce locally generated greenhouse gas emissions.  A greenhouse gas emission is an emission of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases due to human or natural events contributing to measureable global warming and/or climate change.  GHG reduction plans help residents, businesses, and local governments achieve cost savings, promote cleaner air, rely less on imported fossil fuels, and move toward a more sustainable energy economy by monitoring and decreasing their GHG emissions.  

Benefits of Using Tool:
When implemented, the local area benefits of a GHG reduction plan include:
  • Reducing the net emissions of GHG
  • Reducing energy costs
  • Increasing the percent of energy purchases from local sources
  • Reducing vulnerability to changes in energy availability and pricing
  • Increasing public awareness of energy issues
  • Encouraging an energy conservation ethic

  • Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    The Cities for Climate Protection Campaign (CCP) program, which is administered under the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), focuses on the reduction of international greenhouse gas emissions through an action plan developed for local governments.  The following five milestones formulate the framework of the local government action plan.   
  • Milestone 1:  Conduct a baseline emissions inventory and forecast
  • Milestone 2:  Adopt an emissions reduction target for the forecast year
  • Milestone 3:  Develop a local action plan
  • Milestone 4:  Implement the local action plan with policies and measures
  • Milestone 5:  Monitor the progress and report the results

  • Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Currently, there is no federal mandate for GHG emission reporting or reduction in the United States.  Local support and action, in addition to strong support from State legislation, is needed to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    In order for local governments to conduct their baseline emission inventory and emission forecast, they must capture community-wide transportation, energy, and materials data.  After completing the initial inventory and forecast, these data need to be available on a regular basis to evaluate the effectiveness of the GHG mitigation policies.
    The following types of community-wide data are required on a regular basis:
  • Energy use in buildings and facilities
  • Energy use for transportation of people and goods
  • Materials use and disposal (indirect energy use)

  • Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Marin County, California: The County is a partner in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and has implemented a Local Action Plan to reduce GHG emissions throughout the County.
  • Contact: 

    Marin County
    California Community Development Agency - Sustainability Team
    Dawn Weisz
    Sustainability Planner

  • Durham, North Carolina: In a joint effort, the City of Durham, Durham County, and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO, have completed a GHG Emissions Inventory and Local Action Plan in an effort to reduce GHG emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. 
  • Contact: 

    Durham City and County
    Tobin L. Freid,
    Sustainability Manager,

  • ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability: This organization is an international association of local governments, as well as national and regional governments, that have made a commitment to sustainable development. The organization provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development.
  • Contact:

    ICLEI World Secretarist
    401 Richmond Street, Studio 417
    Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3A8

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Local governments across the country are closely monitoring and charting the results of the implementation of local action plans, and as a result, are seeing reduced energy usage.   Measures such as reduced energy usage, conversion to alternative fuels, reduction of emissions, and reduction of landfill waste are typical metrics used to measure the progress of the Local Action Plans.  Examples include Denver, Colorado, which implemented a plan in 2005 and has seen a 7.8% reduction in energy use per passenger at the Denver International Airport.  In addition, all city diesel vehicles now utilize B20 biodiesel fuel, which reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 20%. 

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • “Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments”.  2007. Climate Impacts Group.
  • “Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the City and County of Denver”. 2007.  City of Denver.
  • “Greenhouse Gas and Criteria Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory and Local Action Plan for Emission Reduction”. 2007. City of Durham and Durham County.
  • “Marin County Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan”. 2006. Marin County Community Development Agency. 
  • “Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan”.  2004.  International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives.