Local Climate Action- The Key to Solving the Climate Crisis

Encinitas Civic Center Sign

The impacts of climate change on ecosystems, economies, vulnerable communities, and our planet can be big and scary. In fact, research shows that more than two-thirds of Americans are somewhat or extremely anxious about the impact of climate change on the planet (Connors 2020). 

While the impacts of climate change are large, action from the smallest form of government is crucial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Local governments are responsible for maintaining community resources such as parks, streets, sewers, signage, libraries, city utilities, trees, construction, etc. by utilizing local ordinances, public safety, permitting and more. With many of these community resources being assets people interact with every day, it’s easy to see how local governments have an immediate impact on the daily lives of its constituents. Local governments include cities, such as the City of Encinitas, county governments, such as the County of San Diego, and other public agencies that are taxpayer funded, such as San Diego Community Power.  

Throughout the world, local governments are placing evermore importance toward mitigating and adapting to climate change due to the impact it will have on community resources. Encinitas is one of more than 200 California cities that has passed a detailed Climate Action Plan for reducing community climate pollutants. Our City’s Climate Action Plan includes seven strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions- building efficiency, renewable energy, water efficiency, clean and efficient transportation, off-road equipment, zero waste, and carbon sequestration. Reducing community greenhouse gas emissions for local governments is necessary for several reasons. Most importantly, the science is clear- we must reach net zero emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Currently, there exist large gaps in the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from state and federal policies that make it necessary for local government to step in to further drive emissions reduction toward net zero. Furthermore, local governments are far more equipped to address local issues, and this is especially true in the case of identifying emission reducing activities. For example, the City of Encinitas has taken many actions to reduce vehicle miles traveled that simply cannot be planned by a higher level of government.  

However, local government and state/federal government do not have to work independently of each other climate change; rather, our forms of government must work together by developing funding sources, collaborating on policy development, and involving communities to achieve a carbon free future. Even more importantly, governments cannot achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals without participation from our constituents. Citizens and businesses must take bold climate action to ensure a clean future. Climate change is a once-in-a-lifetime problem that can have catastrophic consequences, but every local action taken adds up to a sustainable future for all.