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A Guide to Local Action

Climate Smart Communities Certification

Image of NYS with information about Climate Smart Communities' actions around the state.

Members of the Climate Smart Communities Program are a network of New York communities engaged in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving climate resilience. Climate Smart Communities can take action in two main ways to minimize the risks of climate change and reduce its long-term costs:

Reducing GHG Emissions: Starting now to reduce GHG emissions and create permanent carbon sinks that remove GHG emissions from the atmosphere - these actions will help stabilize atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide at manageable levels and avoid severe climatic changes.

Adapting to a Changing Climate: Altering the built and natural environment in anticipation of predicted climatic changes, or in response to actual changes, will alleviate the risks associated with unavoidable changes in climate.

Climate Smart Communities Certification Manual

Many municipalities begin by reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience in municipal operations alone, but action by the entire community is needed to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to successfully adapt to unavoidable climate change. Local governments can act directly to reduce fossil fuel consumption in municipal buildings and vehicles, to improve solid waste management practices and to adapt infrastructure and operations for resilience to anticipated changes as the climate warms. Flooding and changes in precipitation and snow pack that may affect water supplies are of special concern to localities.

To help the broader community act, local governments can enable climate-smart practices through land use plans, zoning and building codes and efficient transportation policies. A key local government role is leading, educating and setting an example of energy efficiency and adaptation.

The Climate Smart Communities Certification Manual (PDF, 2.7 MB) contains summaries of community actions across a wide range of practice areas. The table of contents below links to individual sections of the manual, organized by CSC Pledge Element, as well as additional how-to's and case studies to help communities implement the CSC Pledge. For a brief introduction and more information on how to get certified, read the Introduction and Program Requirements (PDF, 384 KB) overview.

Pledge Element 1 - Pledge to be a Climate Smart Community (PDF, 245 KB) - A public commitment to reduce GHG emissions and prepare for unavoidable climate change

Pledge Element 2 - Set goals, inventory emissions, plan for climate action (PDF, 278 KB) - Steps for communities as they assess their emissions and choose actions

Pledge Element 3 - Decrease community energy use (PDF, 671 KB) - Reducing greenhouse gases and taxpayer cost for electricity and fossil fuel

Pledge Element 4 - Increase community use of renewable energy (PDF, 278 KB)

Pledge Element 5 - Realize benefits of recycling and other climate-smart solid waste management practices (PDF, 348 KB)

Pledge Element 6 - Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of climate-smart land-use tools (PDF, 523 KB)

Pledge Element 7 - Enhance community resilience and prepare for the effects of climate change (PDF, 674 KB)

Pledge Element 8 - Support development of a green innovation economy (PDF, 334 KB)

Pledge Element 9 - Inform and inspire the public (PDF, 226 KB) - Climate Smart Communities are making news.

Pledge Element 10 - Commit to an evolving process of climate action (PDF, 209 KB)

The Climate Smart Communities Program is jointly sponsored by the following six New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation; Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health.

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