9. Structuring Your Plan and Getting It Approved
9.1 Sample CAP Table of Contents
Here is a sample CAP table of contents:
- Introduction – Background information including a brief summary of the science of climate change and the basis of your climate commitment. This section could include a statement from your president and discussion of your school’s green campus and GHG mitigation efforts to date
- Your Climate Commitment -- A statement of principles and goals that addresses all aspects of your commitment including those pertaining to changes in academic and research programs and GHG emissions reductions
- Education, Research, and Public Engagement – Plans to prioritize climate change and sustainability in academic programs for all students, in research activities, and in your institution’s interaction with the wider community
- Your Campus Carbon Footprint -- The results and analysis of your GHG inventory, identifying major sources of emissions and describing your current GHG emissions trajectory
- GHG Emissions Mitigation – Strategies for reducing GHG emissions (including those not captured and quantified by your GHG inventory). This part of your CAP may be very detailed and include a discussion of projects, measures, and programs that will reduce GHG emissions, how they were chosen, and a timetable for implementation
- Barriers and Solutions – Barriers to implementation and strategies for addressing them. This could be the place in your plan that anticipates and responds to criticism
- Costs and Financing – Your CAP’s cost estimates and financing plans plus discussion of efforts made and strategies employed to make the plan as affordable and self-financing as possible
- Implementation Structure – How implementation will be managed and coordinated. Include mechanisms and schedules for revisiting and updating the CAP
- Communications Strategy – Plan to encourage the kind of behavior change necessary to implement the CAP
- Tracking Progress – A description of methods to be used to both track CAP progress and keep the CAP on track!
- Conclusion – Quick summary of the CAP, with repetition of why this undertaking is so important and words of encouragement
9.2 Improving the Likelihood of CAP Approval
The CAP team’s first responsibility is producing the best possible climate action plan. But it’s not just about producing a report; it’s about gaining acceptance and approval for your plan so that it can be implemented. There are a variety of social strategies that campus climate action planners, activists and organizers can use to increase the likelihood that their climate action plans will receive administrative approval and thus move to the implementation phase. These include:
- Inclusion, Participation and Stakeholder Support – Include all interested parties, constituencies, and stakeholders in the creation of your CAP, address their concerns, thank them for their contributions, and ask them to support and “lobby” for the final product
- Transparency – Hold open meetings and make all planning documents readily and easily available to the public
- Continuously Involve the Administration – The last thing you want to do is blindside the administration whose approval the plan will need. Keep the president and campus leaders continuously involved and informed as the planning and decision-making process unfolds. Ideally, the president and other top-level administrators will be integral and active members of the team.
- Identify and Address Barriers – By anticipating and thoroughly addressing institutional barriers (including cost and funding), your CAP has a much better chance of being approved
- Peer Review -- Submit early and later drafts for a vetting process that involves peer review by technical experts as well as interested students, faculty, and staff throughout the campus. This may be time-consuming, but your plan will be improved by this process and have gained more support
- Build in Flexibility – Explicitly view your CAP as a living document or a work in progress by articulating specific, firm plans from the present to your first interim date and then just prior to that date revisit the plan and make specific plans for the next interval. This approach recognizes the vagaries of long term planning, will lift some weight off the CAP team’s shoulders, and provide the kind of flexibility and wiggle room campus leadership may want in order to develop a comfort level with the plan
This guide was produced with financial support from the American College & Univerisity Presidents Climate Commitment.