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Mitigation for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), where a project will have significant environmental impacts, the agency undertaking or permitting that project must impose all feasible mitigation. For some types of impacts, mitigation is straightforward (for example, requiring replacement wetlands for wetlands that will be developed). For other types of impacts, such as climate change, we are in the process of learning about what mitigation is available, and what works best.

Metal rings sticking out of the ground.

There are many helpful resources that set forth potential mitigation for greenhouse gas emissions (the type of pollution that causes climate change). These include the 2008 Technical Advisory, pdf. issued by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and the 2008 white paper, CEQA and Climate Change, issued by the California Association of Pollution Control Officers (CAPCOA). The update of the CEQA Guidelines in March 2010 also provides additional guidance.

There are a number of modeling tools useful for estimating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other benefits associated with project design features and mitigation measures. Many of these tools are listed in OPR's Technical Advisory and in CAPCOA's white paper. These lists are not, however, exhaustive. New tools, including integrated models that can make predictions about complex systems, are emerging. As better models develop, agencies should begin to employ them to make better, more informed decisions.

For information relating more specifically to general plan updates, see CEQA and General Planning.

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