California’s Decarbonization Strategy: Adaptable Policy with Strong Target Setting and Stakeholder Engagement

Case Summary: 

California’s successful climate policies are set against a background of strong political and public support for protecting the environment, long-term planning, analytical evaluations and modeling, and an inclusive stakeholder process that helps shape long-term plans and individual climate policies. This case study describes California’s process for addressing climate change, with a view toward the role of long-term planning in achieving near-, mid-, and long-term targets. It outlines the role of different state actors, as well as the policy and planning process employed by the state. The case study draws lessons learned from this process, highlighting the state’s challenges and successes.

Lessons learned, include:

• GHG regulation is achievable with a growing economy.

• Climate policy must consider all communities, with special attention paid to disadvantaged communities to ensure equitable benefits and to adequately address concerns.

• Science-informed policy improves resilience and outcomes, and is preferable for achieving emissions reductions.

• Starting programs at different points and with different goals, and aligning them over time, is not only possible but enables flexible and adaptive policymaking.

United States
North America
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Analysis and Data Collection, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, Sub-national Action and Integration, Low Emission Development Strategies
Sectors and Themes 
Agriculture, Health, Poverty, Transport, Water
Barriers overcome 
Institutional, Political
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Resources Institute (WRI)
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