Cities Initiatives Outside The Paris Agreement

When the Trump Administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, many people, communities, and industries announced their intentions to continue honoring the objectives of the agreement.  Elected officials, particularly state governors and city mayors, began announcing these intentions.  To complement these efforts, The Bloomberg Philanthropy group announced a $70 million investment in the “American Cities Climate Challenge” in which 25 cities would receive support and other resources to help accelerate their efforts to meet or beat near-term carbon reduction goals. 

Over the past several months, press releases have been made as the winning cities were announced.  Recently the list of 25 Climate Challenge winners was finalized and announced.  The Climate Challenge winning cities are:

Albuquerque Atlanta Austin
Boston Charlotte Chicago
Cincinnati Columbus Denver
Honolulu Indianapolis Los Angeles
Minneapolis Orlando Philadelphia
Pittsburgh Portland Saint Paul
San Antonio San Diego San Jose
Seattle St. Louis St. Petersburg
Washington, DC

You can “click” on any of the cities above and read the news announcements including some of the specific plans the cities are undertaking.  According to city leaders, they are taking these initiatives because:

  • Our cities are already experiencing the deleterious effects of climate change;
  • Our residents want more resilient, sustainable neighborhoods and local economies; and
  • Our mayors recognize that better health, jobs, and opportunities tomorrow depend on bold actions today.

Most cities indicate they will focus their efforts on the two sectors that contribute most emissions in American cities – buildings and transportation. In nearly every major American city, buildings and transportation consume more energy and are responsible for more carbon pollution than any other sector, totaling 80% of citywide emissions. 

San Diego’s Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres

Each city has announced specific focus areas:  For example: San Diego plans to utilize benefits to increase active transportation and transit use and propel the city to its 100% renewable energy goal.  Additionally, San Diego will work with Bloomberg and partners on the ground to: develop a comprehensive mobility application to make transit and active transportation an easier choice for San Diegans, incorporating community partners such as the local transit authority; amend the land use code to remove barriers to more carbon-friendly transportation choices and incentivize new housing developments near quality transit; and design and implement a 100% renewable energy program.  Like the Paris Agreement, the city solutions are not “one-size-fits-all” since each city has identified initiatives unique and specific to their community, all with the objective of reducing carbon.  I found it encouraging and informative to read the ideas cities are implementing.  Click a link!

The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge builds on the America’s Pledge initiative, which aims to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, and underscores Mike Bloomberg’s dedication to climate action investments that translate city commitments into tangible climate achievements.

Drawdown, the comprehensive plan to reverse global warming (see my 4/23/2019 blog What Matters Most?) identifies 15 individual solutions associated with buildings and cities which, if implemented would reduce total atmospheric CO2 by 54.5 gigatons over a 30 year period.  The cost of these initiatives is estimated at $4.7B but, in addition to the CO2 reductions, would generate lifetime savings of almost $18B. 

Additional city solutions involve the transportation segment.  Worldwide, the transport sector is responsible for 23% of all global emissions.  Of this, urban transport is the single greatest source and growing, largely due to the number of cars on the road.  Cities have excellent opportunities to encourage mass transit.  Currently in the United States, in metropolitan areas that have mass transit options, only 5% of daily commuters use it.  Initiatives such as improved bus service (e.g., dedicated lanes; centralized terminal-like stations – akin to train stops; and simplified payment systems) can improve the use of mass transit.  Worldwide, the use of mass transit is expected to dip from 37% to 21% over the next thirty years, largely due to low-income world gains wealth.  Drawdown estimates that trend could be reversed and actually increase to 40% with focused attention and incentives.  That would eliminate 6.6 gigatons of CO2.

Another transportation segment initiative that cities expect to expand involves electric vehicles (EVs).  Two-thirds of the world’s oil consumption is used to fuel cars and trucks.  Replacing a portion of those vehicles with EVs would generate significant CO2 savings.  Assuming EV ownership rises to 16% of total passenger miles in thirty years, Drawdown estimates 10.2 gigatons of CO2 would be reduced.  Cities can play a role in making EVs more practical by initiatives that expand the network of charging stations.  Worldwide, the number of charging stations doubled between 2012 and 2014 but significant increases are still required if EVs are expected to grow from 1% today to 16% by 2050. 

The Bloomburg initiative is a great example of how people and communities can work toward a better world.  Since June 2017 when Washington effectively turned its back on the Paris Agreement, mayors from more than 230 cities representing more than 70 million Americans have said We Are Still In and will continue to push America forward. Maybe we should consider a mayor for our next President?

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