Survey Finds U.S. Mayors Taking Action on Climate Protection, and Planning for More

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Cities are promoting renewable electricity, low-carbon transportation, and energy efficiency to reduce emissions

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Cities small and large across the country see the benefits of improving energy efficiency and deploying more clean energy and transportation.

Cities across the country are showing leadership in promoting renewable electricity, low-carbon transportation, and energy efficiency, according to preliminary results of a survey jointly conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). The two organizations have partnered to form the Alliance for a Sustainable Future.

The survey, to be released Saturday at USCM’s 85th annual conference, also found overwhelming interest by cities in collaborating with the private sector to accelerate climate efforts, and identified several opportunities to do so.

Among the key findings:

  • 69 percent of responding cities generate or purchase renewable electricity to power city buildings or operations. An additional 22 percent are considering doing so.
  • 63 percent already buy green vehicles, including hybrid, electric, natural gas, and biodiesel, for their municipal fleets. 30 percent are considering it.
  • 71 percent have energy efficiency policies for new municipal buildings, and 66 percent have them for existing municipal buildings.

Responses have come from 66 cities, ranging in size from 21,000 to 8.5 million residents across 30 states. These cities spend more than $1.2 billion annually in electricity, representing significant purchasing power that can help shape the market.

The survey, which will be open through the summer, marks the launch by USCM and C2ES of an ongoing effort to collect information on progress cities are making in response to climate change, identify innovative solutions, and share them with mayors nationwide. Examples will include opportunities for public-private partnerships to help cities achieve their emissions-cutting goals not only within their own municipal operations and facilities but also community-wide.

The survey shows overwhelming interest by cities in working with one another (90 percent) and with the private sector (87 percent) to accelerate climate action, a finding that takes on even more importance following President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement—an agreement both organizations strongly supported.

The survey found opportunities for greater collaboration. For example:

  • Roughly half of responding cities are incentivizing energy efficiency in new and existing commercial and residential buildings.
  • Less than half have policies or programs that help citizens and businesses choose renewable electricity options.
  • 66 percent of responding cities have public charging stations, while 36 percent are facilitating private infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Read more about the alliance and a summary of survey results to date here.

“Cities and companies are making progress, but more can and must be done. Cities small and large across the country see the benefits of improving energy efficiency and deploying more clean energy and transportation,” said Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, chairman of the alliance steering committee. “But we need to create a baseline so we can measure our ongoing progress. Sustainability is a smart strategy for the future, and cities and companies need to learn from one another.”

“The nation’s mayors are poised to take an even greater leadership role in fighting climate change and protecting cities from its negative impacts. Working together with the business community, we can achieve deeper results more quickly and more broadly,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Cities and companies both realize the risks of climate impacts and the economic opportunities of climate solutions. By partnering, they can keep the U.S. heading in the right direction toward a sustainable future,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe.

The USCM-C2ES alliance, which launched last summer, creates a framework for mayors and business leaders to develop concrete approaches to reduce carbon emissions, speed deployment of new technology, implement sustainable development strategies, and respond to the growing impacts of climate change. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales leads the public-private steering committee, with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski as vice chair. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Duke Energy, and AECOM are founding co-sponsors.

“Across America, cities are facing different climate threats and they’re deploying new clean technologies to mitigate against them and seize economic opportunities. What many cities share is a dedication to lean forward and drive innovation. AECOM is proud to be working with mayors on building a sustainable and resilient future," said Josh Sawislak, Global Director of Resilience at AECOM.

The Alliance for a Sustainable Future will discuss the survey results and showcase sustainability innovation Saturday, June 24, in Miami Beach at The U.S. Conference of Mayors 85th annual conference. Details are below.

Alliance for a Sustainable Future
Date: Saturday, June 24, 7:30- 9:00 a.m.
Place: Rooms Splash 9/10, Upper Lobby Level, The Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
Speakers will include: Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, AECOM Global Director of Resilience Josh Sawislak, Duke Energy Managing Director of Environmental and Energy Policy Kevin Leahy, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Dubuque (IA) Mayor Roy Buol, Denton (TX) Mayor Chris Watts, Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
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About The U.S. 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. Learn more at http://www.usmayors.org.

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate

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Laura Rehrmann
@C2ES_org
since: 08/2010
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