In August, as part of an ambitious plan to expand renewable energy to households across America, President Obama called on all U.S. mayors to publicly commit to a local climate action plan. The President set a goal of at least 100 U.S. cities signing the Compact of Mayors prior to the Paris UN climate change meeting (“COP”).
Today, that goal has not only been met, but surpassed.
Why are U.S. cities so important to President Obama’s climate agenda?
Cities are home to 70 percent of the world’s total energy related carbon emissions and 90 percent of the world’s largest cities rest on coastal or intercostal waterways – making cities increasingly vulnerable to negative economic, environmental and health impacts.
Increasingly, mayors know they do not need to choose between economic health and environmental health. Reducing carbon pollution is not an economic cost; it is a competitive necessity, and an opportunity, that drives local technological innovation, job creation and economic growth.
Cities aren’t waiting for someone else to act. They are taking action right now. Over 100 mayors from all over America are accelerating climate action in their communities.
The Compact of Mayors, launched at the request of the UN Secretary-General by his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, along with global city networks, C40, ICLEI and UCLG and UN-Habitat, includes cities from the South, to the heartland, to all corners of America, and has demonstrated their collective commitment to fighting climate change.
By committing to the Compact of Mayors, cities around the world are pledging to undertake transparent, data-driven approaches to reduce city-level emissions, lower climate change risk and work to complement national and international efforts to protect our climate.
Cities are retrofitting buildings, creating construction jobs, modernizing transportation networks, incorporating green fleets and bike sharing, and finding new ways to deliver energy and water while reducing carbon pollution.
The Climate Action Champions program was launched by the White House and U.S. Department of Energy in December 2014, to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted Federal support to help those communities further raise their ambitions.
The City of Boston was selected as a Champion, and has been leading by example. Boston has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The City was the first in the nation to adopt Green Building Zoning, has added climate preparedness to the review of large new development projects, and is working closely with local utilities on energy efficiency and the development of microgrids. In both 2013 and 2015, Boston was ranked by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as the #1 energy efficient city in the nation.
In Atlanta, in the face of increasing temperatures, droughts and declining agriculture, Mayor Reed has set targets to reduce overall emissions from buildings, waste and transit to 20 percent below 2009 levels by 2020, and 40 percent below 2009 levels by 2030. This plan will create jobs, improve air quality and preserve Atlanta’s livability and history for future generations.
Thousands of miles away in Des Moines, the city is also facing extreme weather, flooding, impact from runoff and a decline in agricultural yields. Mayor Cownie isn’t waiting for his state’s climate plan or for his Senators and Congressmen to weigh in. Instead, the City of Des Moines aims to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050, cut carbon emissions from power plants by 16 percent by 2030 and create 2,500 more jobs in energy efficient sectors. Twenty-seven percent of Des Moines’ total electricity is already powered by wind, and because of the cities renewable energy plan, Iowa residential consumers and businesses will have more money in their pockets for things like food and childcare.
In heeding the President’s call to action, U.S. mayors are now connected to mayors around the world looking for solutions, and dedicated to sharing ideas and best practices. And, because of their bold action, a number U.S. cities will join President Obama and Secretary Kerry in Paris for the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, co-hosted by Mike Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, to pool their resources and clout, and urge action nationally and internationally.
When it comes to COP, we have a lot of work left to do to reach an ambitious agreement. But we’re confident we can reach an outcome for which we can all be proud -- one that includes ambitious nationally-determined climate targets from all countries, establishes a framework for countries to increase their ambition over time, puts in place a rigorous system of transparency, provides climate finance for low-carbon development and adaptation, and encourages complementary efforts by sub-national governments, enterprising businesses, innovative scientists and engineers, and an enlightened global public taking actions of their own that demand global leaders to do even more.
The cities taking part in this pledge are making a crucial down payment on that final component of the agreement we hope to achieve. In the days leading up to COP and afterwards, we encourage U.S. mayors to join their 100 plus peers in setting ambitious goals, making robust voluntary commitments and rigorously and consistently reporting on progress in their efforts to combat climate change, greenhouse gasses and climate change risk. The Compact grows in strength with each new commitment and each new collaboration.
Here's the full list of U.S. Cities committed to the Compact of Mayors:
Ann Arbor, MI
Camuy, Puerto Rico
Cayey, Puerto Rico
Chula Vista, CA
Des Moines, IA
Eagle Nest, NM
Fort Collins, CO
Grand Rapids, MI
King County, WA
Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Manhattan Beach, CA
Miami Beach, FL
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
North Miami, FL
Palm Springs, CA
Palo Alto, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
San Luis Obispo, CA
San Rafael, CA
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Monica, CA