Nation’s Mayors Expand Their Commitment To Attack Local Climate Challenges
At its 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting yesterday, the nation’s mayors renewed their longstanding commitment to fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy independence and efficiency and developing renewable energy.
Conference President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson joined with other USCM leaders to sign a revised agreement that for the first time emphasizes local actions to adapt cities to changing climatic conditions and to build grassroots support for local conservation initiatives.
The Agreement also urges federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence, create American jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, protect our environment, eliminate waste, and fight climate change.
Following the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulated the Conference on their work and engaged in an interactive discussion with mayors from the audience.
First launched ten years ago in February of 2005, the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement was a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement, mostly representing larger cities.
For nearly a decade, the USCM through its Mayors’ Climate Protection Center has recognized mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards. The Center has convened summits and sessions, and released numerous reports, surveys and best practice guides highlighting mayoral best practices, citing initiatives and progress in cutting local carbon emissions. New examples released during this meeting include Gresham, Oregon for its efforts to make its wastewater treatment system 100 percent powered by onsite renewable power and Las Vegas for challenging itself to become the first net-zero city for energy, water and waste.
USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mayors have been leaders on climate protection, whether it’s cutting carbon emissions or preparing their communities for the effects of climate change. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”
USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch said, “This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions. Mayors across the country are investing in the future by tackling climate change head on. And, those who have signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement have made more progress on beating back climate change in their cities than those who have not. But we all need to do more. That’s why I’m calling on all mayors to step up their climate protection efforts by signing a new agreement: One that remains bullish on climate change mitigation efforts, but increases our focus on resiliency. By increasing our focus on green job creation and business growth, investing in cleaner energy that results in cleaner air, and cutting down on waste, we’ll ensure that cities are places where our kids and grandkids will choose to live, work, and raise their families.
Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard, Co-Chair of the USCM Climate Protection Task Force said, “Mayors are united more than ever to tackle the problems associated with climate change. When we started this effort in 2005, we thought we had more time to act. Climatic events of late tell us we have to accelerate our efforts at every level. Regardless of your politics, people realize we’ve made a mess of our climate and our environment and we need to clean it up. It’s very simple.”
USCM Executive Director and CEO Tom Cochran said, “While Washington is talking about cutting carbon to protect our planet, mayors and their constituents are taking action across the board with millions of Americans actually doing something about it. Our USCM Climate Center is leading the way and mayors across the globe are not waiting for their national governments. Others talk about the future; mayors are walking toward our future. They are making a difference.”
The renewed Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement encourages federal and state cooperation with local governments to do the following:
Promote greater energy independence and reduce the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels;
Accelerate energy efficiency and the development of clean, economical and renewable energy technologies such as cogeneration, LED/other energy-efficient lighting, methane recovery for energy generation, waste to energy, wind and solar energy, fuel cells, efficient motor vehicles, and biofuels;
Adapt city buildings, homes, facilities and infrastructures to address changing climatic conditions; and
Urge the federal government to reduce carbon pollution through the Clean Air Act, Appliance Efficiency Standards, Federal Transportation Investments, and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency loan and grant programs, including refunding of energy block grant program, and by proposing new legislative initiatives.
On the local level, Mayors agreed to:
Develop an energy plan that addresses and includes water, wastewater and stormwater runoff, heat island effects, preservation of open space and an inventory of emissions from fossil fuels for city operations and for the community using established metrics, set reduction targets and adopt elements that address how to harden and adapt city systems and infrastructures to climatic events;
Adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities;
Promote transportation options such as bicycle trails, commute trip reduction programs, incentives for car pooling and public transit;
Increase the use of clean, alternative energy by supporting the development of renewable energy resources, building the renewable energy technology manufacturing capacity of cities, recovering landfill methane for energy production, and supporting the use of waste to energy technology;
Make energy efficiency and resilience a priority through building code improvements, retrofitting city facilities with energy efficient lighting, urging employees to conserve energy and save money and other actions to maximize the performance of the city buildings;
Increase the average fuel efficiency of municipal fleet vehicles, reduce the number of vehicles, launch an employee education program including anti-idling messages, and convert diesel vehicles to bio-diesel;
Evaluate opportunities to increase energy efficiency in water and wastewater systems, recover wastewater treatment methane for energy production, and harden these systems to respond to sea level rise and other climatic events threatening the delivery of these services;
Increase recycling rates in city operations and in the community;
Maintain healthy urban forests; promote tree planting to increase shading and to absorb CO2;
Help educate the public, schools, other jurisdictions, professional associations, business and industry about the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy development in reducing carbon and actions necessary to adapt buildings, systems, and infrastructures to respond to changing climate conditions;
Support investment in climate preparedness strategies that implement the use of green infrastructure to increase resilience of city water systems, encourage preparedness policies that take into account a city’s most vulnerable populations and disproportionately affected citizens, and work with state and federal officials to have disaster response systems in place to deal with acute stresses to a city or region; and
Increase community preparedness by assessing and addressing projected impacts such as sea level rise, increased storm surge, extreme heat, drought, floods, and wildfires.
To view the expanded U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, go http://usmayors.org/climateagreement/Final%20USCM%202014%20Mayors%20Climate%20Protection%20Agreement.pdf
About The United States Conference of Mayors — The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.