Think globally, act locally: adoption of climate action plans in California

August 2019
Climatic Change

California has been a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The state has set an ambitious goal of reducing GHG to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The statewide goal cannot be accomplished without the support of local stakeholders. We analyzed over 150 city climate action plans (CAPs) in California and examined their reduction goals. We hypothesized five sets of factors that can explain whether a jurisdiction adopts a plan or not, and what kind of target it sets. We find that size of the city, political ideology, and institutional capacity are related to a higher chance of adopting a climate action plan, while political ideology and air quality explain the extent of aspiration of targets. We also find evidence of policy diffusion where neighbors are more likely to adopt plans. Our findings identify gaps in the CAPs within the state and address what lessons can be learned from the Californian experience of local climate policy adoption and goal-setting.