Date of Award

6-2014

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning

Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Michael R. Boswell, Ph.D

Abstract

Current research indicates that the potential risks associated with human-induced climate change are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Although there have been several attempts, no effective international treaty or policy has been enacted by the United States with the purpose of combating this global issue. In the past decade, local climate action plans (CAPs) have emerged as a planning solution designed to reduce greenhouse emissions (GHGs). Previous studies have examined CAP attributes, but no research has focused solely on climate planning in politically conservative jurisdictions. This research finds that of 245 CAPs completed to date nationally, approximately 90 percent are located in communities identified as politically Democratic based on county level 2012 Presidential Election data. In order to expand climate planning in politically conservative communities, it is important evaluate the characteristics of CAPs in these communities.

This thesis aims to fill the current research gap by analyzing CAPs and conducting stakeholder interviews in seven conservative communities. The central hypothesis is: Climate action plans adopted in conservative communities differ in motivations, type, and political backing, when compared to climate action plans in general. The findings of this case study indicate that CAPs created in conservative communities do not differ substantially from CAPs in general. However, the findings suggest political opposition is heightened in these communities. In addition, the evidence shows that in conservative communities: economic co-benefits are stressed, cost-saving measures are over emphasized, CAP terminology is altered, business community involvement is crucial, and state mandates motivate CAP creation. The results of this research are distilled into 12 lessons and best practices for planning practitioners, and establish a basis for future research focusing on the political nature of climate action planning.