Assessing Policy Innovation: Climate Action Planning in the U.S. Southwest

Case study cities in Arizona and New Mexico.

Already one of the most climate-challenged regions in the United States, the Southwest has a history of dramatic climate variability that is projected to be exacerbated by climate change. Climate change impacts such as warmer temperatures and less certain precipitation will cause increased stress in cities across the Southwest. In addition to climate change impacts, cities in United States have warmed more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole due to other factors such as the urban heat island effect. Local municipalities in the Southwest are on the frontlines of climate change and are in the unique position of planning for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The goal of this research is to document how cities in the Southwest are innovating policy by planning for climate mitigation and resilience, through the content analysis of general plans and interviews with planners in six case study cities in Arizona and New Mexico.

Research Objectives

  • To document how cities in the southwest are addressing climate action planning in their general plans.
  • To understand the climate adaptation policies being taken to address the projected climate and environmental risks faced by the cities.
  • To discover the perceptions of planners on climate risks and responses.