Session 2A: Overview of Cool Planning best practices related to Trees & Climate Action Plan
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
2:15 p.m. - 4 p.m. EDT
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Session 2A: Overview of Cool Planning best practices related to: • Trees—How they benefit communities and the planet Developing a Climate Action Plan; Integrating Ideas from Today’s Workshop * * *Trees—How they benefit communities and the planet: The planting of street trees is one of several well known urban-design techniques for enhancing streetscapes, softening the impact of parking lots, and making walking more pleasant and comfortable. We single it out for special attention here because of its significance with respect to climate change. Planners have long known that cities are significantly warmer than their surrounding countryside. The condition is called the “urban heat island.” It happens for two reasons. First, tall buildings are exposed to more solar radiation in the course of a day than are surfaces at ground level. Second, most urban surfaces are impervious and often dark: the asphalt and concrete of city streets, parking lots, and sidewalks absorb more solar radiation than do the rural fields, farms and forests. Trees moderate the temperatures of the urban heat island, reducing the need for cooling, and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide, a major culprit among the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. In the words of climatologists, such trees are a “carbon sink” that “sequesters” carbon – carbon that otherwise would remain in the atmosphere. Developing a Climate Action Plan; Integrating Ideas from Today’s Workshop: This part of the workshop session will focus the process of developing a climate action plan. Climate action plans typically address the following: • A baseline inventory of greenhouse gas emissions 154 • Goals • Education and outreach • Analysis of alternative growth scenarios • Cleaning house • Monitoring progress • Leadership • Learning from others Key elements of climate action plans include: • an explanation of climate change science and the greenhouse effect • baseline data – i.e., an inventory of local greenhouse gas emissions at the time the climate action plan is adopted – to use for measuring a community’s progress in meeting its goals • greenhouse gas reduction goals • a statement on the need for action on climate change – i.e., an explanation of economic and environmental consequences of inaction • a statement on the benefits of climate action strategies (economic, social, health, financial, fiscal, mobility, environmental, etc.) • the community’s vision for a climate-wise future • a list proposed actions and policies and their probable effects. These may be set forth in issue-oriented chapters – e.g., sections on sustainable transportation and land use, buildings and energy, community outreach and empowerment, etc.