Cities push ahead with climate change efforts

September 29, 2017. As weather patterns continue to grow more erratic and powerful, as seen with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the recent wildfires in Los Angeles, mayors across the country are taking action to address these real climate change threats by committing to reduce carbon emissions. A nationwide survey released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) 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 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 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. They represent a broad geography and range in size from 21,000 (Pleasantville, NJ) to 8.5 million (New York City).  Together, the cities surveyed represent nearly 42 million Americans.

   Key findings include:

- 64 percent of cities responding reported that they were generating or purchasing renewable electricity to power city buildings or other city operations. Additionally, 16 percent of cities source more than 40 percent of their electricity from renewables.

- Of 99 cities responding, 63 indicated they already purchase green vehicles for their fleet and an additional 23 cities are actively exploring the possibility. And, 63 percent of cities offer public charging for electric vehicles.

- 69 percent of responding cities purchase hybrid passenger vehicles; 51 percent purchase electric passenger cars; and another 51 percent purchase natural gas heavy duty vehicles.

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

- The purchasing power of responding cities alone is significant as they spend more than $1.4 billion on total electricity and procure more than 11,500 total vehicles every year—showing that they have the potential to leverage changes in the marketplace.