Climate Action Planning Framework

To deliver the Paris Agreement, climate action planning needs to shift to new levels of ambition, driving rapid and systemic change on the ground. Cities urgently need to position themselves on an ambitious emissions reduction (or peaking) trajectory to achieve emissions neutrality and climate resilience by 2050. 

The Climate Action Planning Framework was developed to support cities in developing climate action plans that are aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The framework sets out the essential components of a climate action plan that is deemed to be compatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, according to the three pillars below.

Focuses on the plan's governance and coordination and the need for community and business engagement, and communications, throughout the plan’s development and implementation

Considers the evidence base and existing city conditions, including baseline emissions, 2050 emissions trajectory, climate risk, and socioeconomic priorities.

Defines the transformational action and implementation plan, including the development and prioritisation of actions and the processes of monitoring, evaluation, reporting and revision

The framework was developed in collaboration with the cities that participated in C40’s Climate Action Planning pilot programme (Boston, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York City and Paris).

The iterative and collaborative development process ran throughout 2017-18 at the same time as the cities in the pilot programme were updating their climate action plans. 

The framework has since been peer-reviewed by key external organisations dedicated to climate change, adaptation and achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

Further revisions were made in March 2020 based on learning from the deployment of the CAP Framework across C40 member cities. For more information on the revisions made please read C40's memorandum.

Cities lead and innovate, which means that climate action planning will also evolve, and the Climate Action Planning Framework will be updated over time.

Key Components of Climate Action Planning

Emissions neutrality

Develop a pathway to deliver an emissions neutral city by 2050 at the latest, and set an ambitious interim target and/or carbon budget (e.g. 2030).

Resilience to climate hazards

Demonstrate how the city will adapt and improve its resilience to the climate hazards that may impact the city now and in future climate change scenarios.

Inclusivity and benefits

Engage with the community to inform the plan, outline the social, environmental and economic benefits expected from implementing the plan, and establish ways to ensure equitable distribution of these benefits to the city’s population.

Governance and collaboration

Detail the city's governance, powers, and capacity, as well as identify the partners who need to be engaged in order to accelerate the delivery of the city's mitigation targets and resilience goals.

Although there is no specified format for the plan, each of the

above components must be included in a city’s climate action planning documentation. The plan may comprise a single, all-encompassing document or a series of complementary plans and documents; it may include existing plans as well as new ones; it may be entirely public-facing, or only partially. While each city is likely to take a different approach, ambition, acceleration and delivery will form core components of the climate action planning process.

There are two key points in time when the Climate Action Planning Framework can be used by city staff, with support from C40, or by a third-party reviewer:
  • Early in the planning process, as part of a strategic appraisal, to identify gaps in the existing evidence base, engage internal stakeholders and provide focused recommendations for the city to develop or revise its existing plan in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • Later in the process, as part of a draft plan review, to check that the final plan satisfies all essential elements of the framework. Similar to the strategic appraisal, this process involves a review of the plan, evidence and documentation, highlighting immediate gaps to inform the completion of the plan.

The framework is designed to be flexible, recognising the diversity of cities and their individual contexts. Each pillar includes several categories and subcategories, highlighting:

  • 'Essential' planning elements that will accelerate transformational action to achieve the Paris Agreement. 
  • 'Go further' guidance on how to strengthen the plan in current or future iterations. 

The C40 Climate Action Planning Framework is made possible with the support of: