Climate change is caused by the accumulation of heat-trapping substances, known as greenhouse gases (GHGs), in Earth's atmosphere. Though many localities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, experts agree that future adverse effects, including sea level rise, flooding, coastal erosion, drought, heat waves, wildfires and more frequent and severe extreme weather events, can still be reduced or averted by prompt, decisive action.
Mitigation refers to measures that help to prevent climate change by limiting GHG emissions. Local governments can reduce their communities' emissions using a wide range of strategies, influencing activities such as energy production, energy management, the built environment, government operations, transportation, water, wastewater and solid waste management.
For information on climate adaptation, please visit our Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience page.
Presidential Executive Orders
The president issued executive orders addressing national climate change mitigation actions, including rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. Some of these call for implementation through federal actions and funding decisions that may affect local governments.
January 27, 2021: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (EO 14008)
EPA Climate Change Home Page. Central hub for EPA climate change resources including reports, greenhouse gas emissions datasets, guidance documents and links to related programs from other federal agencies.
EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removal Center. Compendium of EPA greenhouse gas datasets and tracking tools. Provides information for individual, facility, national and global level emissions.
EPA Local Climate and Energy Program. Resources to help local governments reduce air emissions with cost-effective energy strategies and achieve co-benefits such as improving air quality, lowering energy costs, supporting local economic development, improving public health and increasing energy system reliability.
EPA Benchmarking and Building Performance Standards Policy Toolkit. Toolkit for local decision-makers seeking to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions from commercial and multifamily buildings. Provides guidance on creating performance standards, monitoring progress and collaborating with state officials.
Department of Energy (DOE) Government Energy Management. Resource compendium featuring technical assistance, financing opportunities, case studies and guidance documents for local and Tribal governments to improve energy planning and efficiency.
State and Local Solutions Center. Offers technical assistance, guidance documents and interactive tools to help local governments plan for and finance energy efficiency improvements and clean energy transition projects.
Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning. A 10-step approach for creating a community energy plan, including identifying and engaging stakeholders, assessing your locality's current energy profile, developing and implementing goals and evaluating outcomes.
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Provides frequently updated datasets and visualizations relevant to current trends in American energy consumption and its impacts on climate change.
EIA Data Tools, Apps and Maps Library. Easy-to-use interactive online data dashboards providing insights on energy usage and infrastructure. Includes 33 different tools including dedicated apps for coal, natural gas and renewable energy information.
C40 Research, Measurement and Planning. A collection of key reports, guidance documents and databases from C40 and other organizations that focus on preparing cities to assess current trends and emissions levels to create tailored mitigation plans.
CDP Disclosure Insight Action Cities Portal. Not-for-profit environmental reporting organization that operates a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to better manage their environmental impacts. Provides tools for municipal governments looking to reduce their carbon emissions and keep better track of other environmental metrics, including an open data portal and case-study database on n climate-related risks and opportunities, emissions, mitigation, adaptation, energy and water in cities around the globe.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Successor to the Pew Center for Global Climate Change. Conducts research, gathers data, convenes events and produces reports to improve cooperation between local, state and federal government as well as their counterparts in business and industry on climate policy.
C2ES City and Local Publications Library. Provides links to all C2ES publications aimed at local governments, including reports from the C2ES Mayors/Business Alliance for a Sustainable Future, which brings together local officials and business leaders to act on climate change.
International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Global network of local governments and related stakeholders. Provides publications, webinars, toolkits and other guidance documents focused on local climate action. Offers member cities opportunities for peer-to-peer learning exchange.
ICLEI Clearpath. Interactive software available to paying members of ICLEI. Provides assistance to local governments seeking to complete greenhouse gas inventories, forecasts, climate action plans and monitoring for both their government operations and community as a whole.
Georgetown Climate Center. An initiative of Georgetown Law School dedicated to creating and accumulating resources for local, state and federal climate action. Includes links to climate change databases, guidance documents, policy briefs and toolkits for both mitigation and adaptation.
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. An initiative of Columbia Law School focused on tracking progress and providing guidance on climate change law. Includes databases relating to climate litigation, international climate regulation and climate attribution as well as model laws for decarbonization efforts.
Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization. Network drafting model laws to assist local governments in adopting new approaches to reduce GHG emissions.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report. United Nations report synthesizing over 14,000 studies to provide a globally informed, up-to-date overview of the current state of climate change, its expected consequences and necessary actions for future mitigation and adaptation.
Global Greenhouse Gas Protocol for Cities. Three-part guidance document that introduces and explains globally accepted greenhouse gas reporting and accounting principles, provides sector-specific accounting guidance and explains how inventories can be used to craft a local mitigation plan. Includes a sample reporting template.
ICLEI U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Folder of seven key documents providing technical guidance, methodologies and best practices for taking local greenhouse gas inventories. Includes a core guidance document, several detailed appendices and a Scoping and Reporting Tool. Free download requires users to enter basic demographic information.
Toolkit for Incorporating Food Waste in Municipal Climate Action Plans. Provides municipalities with model provisions for incorporating food waste management measures into local climate action plans. Offers a menu of policy options focused on preventing food waste, rescuing surplus food and recycling food scraps (Environmental Law Institute).
Water's Net Zero Plus. U.S. Water Alliance report focusing on the water sector's contributions to climate change. Provides a broad framework for cutting emissions from water sector activities while advancing environmental justice for communities.
A Guide to Regional Decarbonization. This report, published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), provides guidance materials and best practices for longterm decarbonization planning at a regional level. It presents the County of San Diego as a case study for how other jurisdictions can plan and implement their own decarbonization plans.
EPA Facility Level Information on Greenhouse Gases Tool (FLIGHT). Interactive database of information gathered from large facilities required to report emissions as part of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP). Allows users to view emissions data by state, facility and type of fuel or greenhouse gas.
DOE State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Tool. Interactive data dashboard integrating information on energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable transportation and their associated cost-effectiveness. Assists decision-makers to find financially viable options for meeting clean energy goals.
Climate Change State Resource Locator. Interactive map with links to environmental compliance resources developed by local governments. It also includes climate mitigation plans developed by state agencies.
State Climate Policy Map - Climate-XChange. Interactive map and dashboard that provides information about the climate policies adopted and implemented across all 50 states.
The Climate Action Prioritization (CLIMACT Prio) Tool. Tool intended to guide city planners through collecting and analyzing data to prioritize potential climate mitigation actions according to both GHG impact and stakeholder priorities. It was created and distributed by researchers at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Local and Tribal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Tool. Tool to help local governments evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their municipal operations, providing a baseline for tracking emission trends, developing targeted mitigation strategies and assessing progress.
Equity and Mitigation Planning Tool. FEMA database of resources to help planners and decision makers make mitigation plans that best engage vulnerable communities and incorporate equity.