Local governments have steadily increased their initiative to address global climate change, and many present their proposed strategies through climate action plans (CAPs). This study conducts a literature review on current local approaches to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies by assessing CAPs in California and presents common strategies in the transportation sector along with useful tools. One identified limitation of many CAPs is the omission of quantitative economic cost and emissions data for decision-making on the basis of cost-effectiveness. Therefore, this study proposes a framework for comparing strategies based on their life cycle emissions mitigation potential and costs. The results data can be presented in a marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) to allow for side-by-side comparison of considered strategies. Researchers partnered with Yolo and Unincorporated Los Angeles Counties to analyze 7 strategies in the transportation and energy sectors (five and two, respectively). A MACC was subsequently developed for each county. Applying the life cycle approach revealed strategies that had net cost savings over their life cycle, indicating there are opportunities for reducing emissions and costs. The MACC also revealed that some emissions reduction strategies in fact increased emissions on a life cycle basis. Applying the MACC framework to two case study jurisdictions illustrated both the feasibility and challenges of including quantitative analysis in their decision-making process. An additional barrier to using the MACC framework in the context of CAPs, is the mismatch between a life cycle and annual accounting basis for GHG emissions. Future work could explore more efficient data collection, alternative scopes of emissions for reporting, and environmental justice concerns.
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