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Julie is a junior studying Geophysics and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Though climate change is a global problem, the impacts are felt on the local scale; it follows that the solutions must come at the local level. Surprisingly, many cities and municipalities are implementing climate mitigation (or climate action) policies and programs. However, they face many procedural and institutional barriers to their efforts. Krause (2011) propounds that a common institutional obstacle local governments face is lack of expertise or data necessary to formulate comprehensive climate action plans, conduct greenhouse gas emissions inventories, or monitor and evaluate progress toward their goals. To this end, thirteen in-depth case studies were done of successful model practices ("best practices") of climate programs carried out by various cities, counties, and organizations in Colorado, and one outside Colorado. Research was conducted by going to each city or program's website; reading annual written reports, documents, and community guides; corresponding with the respective program managers, administrators, and city officials; and following up with phone interviews with these individuals. The information gathered was then compiled into a series of reports containing, for a climate action plan, a narrative description of the plan; an overview of the plan elements (targets or goals); implementation strategies and any indicators of success to date; and the adoption or approval process, as well as community engagement efforts and marketing or messaging strategies. For other types of programs (energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation and land use), the report featured a more detailed description of the program components (including target audience and implementation mechanisms) and more detailed indicators of success (such as GHG emissions reductions and cost-effectiveness in the form of quantitative data, if available).

Between the thirteen case studies, there were a wide variety of approaches to implementing local climate action programs, ranging from commercial, apolitical and economically motivated to environmentally oriented and government-regulated. Furthermore, this benchmarking exercise affirmed the conventional wisdom summarized by Pitt (2010), that peer pressure (the presence of neighboring jurisdictions with climate initiatives), the level of community engagement and enthusiasm, and most importantly staff members dedicated to the area of climate planning have a significant effect on climate mitigation policy adoption.

Julie's summer research poster, Approaches to local climate action in Colorado, may be found here (1MB).

Besides climate policy, Julie's other research interests include solar variability, air quality, climate dynamics/climate theory, physical oceanography and the carbon cycle. She enjoys yoga, reading, hiking and movies.

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