U.S. Mayors have signed a revised climate protection agreement that for the first time focuses on local actions to adapt cities to changing climate conditions. The agreement is also aims to build grassroots support for local conversation efforts. The action took place during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting where one area of focus was climate change and the role energy efficiency and renewable energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon.
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. 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.
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.”
The climate initiative was first launched 10 years ago in February of 2005 and at the time 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. Since then, USCM has been recognizing mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.
USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch noted, “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,” continued Finch. “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.”
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.
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