The City of South Lake Tahoe (City) has developed its first Climate Action Plan (CAP), which was adopted by City Council on October 20th, 2020, and will serve as a long-term plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from community activities, as well as prepare for the impacts of climate change.
What is a CAP?
A climate action plan is a detailed and strategic framework for measuring, planning, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and related climatic impacts. Municipalities design and utilize CAPs as customized roadmaps for making informed decisions and understanding where and how to achieve the largest and most cost-effective emissions reductions that are in alignment with other municipal goals.
Climate action plans outline strategies for reducing GHG emissions from various community activities organized into sectors, which include transportation, building energy, land use, carbon sequestration and watershed health, and water and solid waste. They also contain specific guidance for effectively implementing emissions reduction measures. It is becoming more common to include adaptation strategies in CAPs as well.
Why did the City develop a CAP?
Many local and state governments have enacted emissions reduction requirements. The State of California has implemented emissions reduction targets through AB 32 and SB 32, and has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045. The City of South Lake Tahoe has built on these goals and adopted its own targets, which are more progressive than the State’s.
Becoming the 26th city in the nation to do so, it adopted Resolution 2017-26, Establishing Renewable Energy and Carbon Emissions Reduction Goals. These goals include 50% municipal renewable energy by 2025, 100% municipal renewable energy by 2032, and 100% community renewable electricity by 2032. The resolution additionally outlines the emissions reduction targets of a 50% reduction in community-wide emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction in community-wide emissions by 2040. The CAP provides the guidance that our community needs to reach these goals. The process in which the City developed the CAP, engaged with stakeholders and the public, and ultimately adopted the document, is outlined below.
In addition to addressing climate change, the CAP will provide numerous co-benefits. Emissions reduction strategies are crafted to provide benefits to public health and safety, economic sustainability, local environmental quality, community resilience, and equity.
How will the CAP be implemented?
Now that the Climate Action Plan has been adopted by City Council, the City will begin the implementation process. This process is described in detail in Chapter 6 of the CAP. All strategies in the CAP will undergo a comprehensive analysis of prioritization, based on a number of factors. Once strategy prioritization has occurred, the City will begin to implement emissions reduction strategies, and continue to engage the relevant stakeholders and community, as timelines and funding allow. This process will continue until an updated GHG emissions inventory is performed, progress is assessed, and adjustments are made accordingly. The City maintains its commitment to building a more resilient, sustainable future here for the community of South Lake Tahoe.