Climate Change in the City

By Gerlach, Alec | USA TODAY, November 2017 | Go to article overview

Climate Change in the City


Gerlach, Alec, USA TODAY


AS WEATHER PATTERNS continue to grow more erratic and powerful, as seen with hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the wildfires in California, mayors across the country are taking action to address these threats by committing to reduce carbon emissions. A nationwide survey released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions as part of their partnership--the Alliance for a Sustainable Future--found that nearly two-thirds of the responding cities are procuring green vehicles, purchasing renewable electricity, and requiring efficient government buildings. The Alliance also has released a case study of six cities, which provides a more-detailed description that illustrates the breadth of carbon reduction programs.

The survey demonstrates that cities are pushing ahead with their efforts to implement climate programs to expedite carbon-reduction initiatives to meet aggressive goals, and that they are eager to partner with business and other communities to do it. Eighty-five percent of cities are interested in, or already are, partnering with the business community to advance climate solutions in the areas of electricity, buildings, and transportation, but the survey also shows that there is much work to be done and the potential for growth in these programs is significant.

The survey included the responses of 102 cities from 35 states, representing a broad geography and range in size from 21,000 (Pleasantville, N.J.) to 8,500,000 (New York). Combined, the cities surveyed represent nearly 42,000,000 Americans. Key findings include:

* 64% of cities responding report that they are generating or purchasing renewable electricity to power city buildings or other operations. Additionally, 16% source more than 40% of their electricity from renewables.

* 63 cities indicate they already purchase green vehicles for their fleet and an additional 23 cities actively are exploring the possibility--and 63% offer public charging for electric vehicles.

* 69% purchase hybrid passenger vehicles; 51%, electric passenger cars; and 51%, natural gas heavy duty vehicles.

* Cities are taking action to promote energy-efficient municipal buildings: 67% have efficiency policies in place for new buildings, while 64% have policies in place for existing buildings--and more than two-thirds of cities are employing energy audits to track consumption. …

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