Community-Wide Climate Action Planning

Action Planning is an ongoing process. It pays to revisit where you are at in the process.

This diagram on the right represents the key steps in community-wide climate action planning. Community-wide climate action planning uses commonly understood planning steps for assessing and measuring community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use and implementing policies and actions to reduce GHG emissions and conserve energy.

Community-wide climate action planning will look different for different communities and could include the development of the following using a climate action lens:

  • a climate action plan;
  • a community energy and emissions plan;
  • an integrated community sustainability plan (ICSP); or
  • an official community plan (OCP); or
  • a regional growth strategy (RGS).


The key resources below are examples of climate action planning frameworks that provide detailed guidance and links to information to help you work through your climate action planning processes:


Summary of Key Steps in Climate Action Planning

1. Effectively engaging the public, staff and elected officials is critical to advancing climate action initiatives. When the community and local government staff and elected officials have a clear understanding of existing climate change challenges and opportunities it will be easier to develop effective implementation strategies and see change happen on the ground. For more information on effective engagement strategies check out this BC Climate Action Toolkit link. Six Steps to a Sustainable Community is a useful guide for local governments wanting to engage their community in action planning.

2. Measuring your community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is an important step in understanding the source of your GHG emissions and will help you to identify GHG reduction targets and corresponding actions. In British Columbia we are fortunate to have the Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI) which provides data on energy consumption and GHG emissions for all communities in BC. These inventories, plus an emissions forecast, are sufficient to receive recognition for a Milestone One community inventory under the  Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Program.

3. Targets establish goals to work toward and can be very effective in initiating and encouraging action.  BC’s Local Government Act now requires the inclusion of greenhouse gas reduction targets, policies and actions in Official Community Plans (OCPs) and Regional Growth Strategies (RGSs). The provincial government encourages local governments to set an overarching community-wide target that is ambitious but realistic. The province also encourages local governments to set a number of sector specific targets connected to indicators that are related to energy use (e.g. vehicle kilometres travelled, types of housing). Follow this link to find more examples of sector specific indicators. Communities that have set targets are eligible to receive recognition for Milestone Two of the PCP program.

4. Getting to the implementation stage requires developing an action plan. Some communities may choose to develop a climate action plan, a community energy and emissions plan, an integrated sustainability plan or use their OCP or RGS review process as the opportunity to identify climate action planning goals and opportunities. Ultimately, a number of the actions identified through climate action planning processes will be operationalized through policies in the OCP and/or the RGS. There are a number of tools available to local governments to encourage actions. These include: outreach, incentives and regulation. Examples of how these have been used can be found throughout the climate action toolkit website as well as a number of documents found on the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development website. Action planning and implementation are Milestones Three and Four of the PCP program.

5. Monitoring the results of your action planning and implementation helps you to determine whether reduction measures are producing anticipated results and if your targets will be met. It provides an opportunity to identify next steps which may include revisiting your targets and/or your implementation strategies.  It is important for local governments to develop a monitoring system. (Click here for an example). Monitoring progress and reporting results is Milestone Five of the PCP program.

Community Examples

Key Funding Sources:

Need Additional Help?

Smart Planning for Communities (SPC) offers local and First Nations governments the resources of skilled sustainability facilitators in communities across BC. Contact the SPC team for advice and assistance on your climate protection planning project including how to find the right tools and identify opportunities for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emission reduction measures.