3 Reasons to be Hopeful About Mayoral Climate Supergroups

Confused about all the Mayoral coalitions and partnerships aimed at local climate solutions? 

You’re not alone. 

Just last week, two powerful new coalitions aimed at supporting mayors in the US and across the globe were unveiled, bringing together more powerful voices in the movement for local climate solutions.

But this is cause for celebration, not consternation, because this means that solutions to climate change continue to be deployed where they are most needed – where people live, work, play, and pray – aided by some of the best and brightest leaders and organizations working to solve climate challenges.

Mayors have long been recognized for their leadership in addressing climate change. The fact is, mayors in the US and around the world have little choice in the matter, as the anticipated impacts of our changing climate continue to powerfully manifest themselves in a range of impacts – severe weather and flooding, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves, economic disruption and food insecurity.

In the face of the imperative to lead communities towards positive solutions to this unfolding threat, local elected leaders have come to rely on the expertise, guidance, support, and encouragement of a growing group of policy and data management experts that have become active partners in local climate action. Fortunately, a range of organizations that are equipped to provide this expertise, from CDP to ICLEI, Urban Sustainability Directors Network to C40 Cities, and more – stand at the ready to provide policy and programmatic support to mayors and their local agencies.

Alliance for A Sustainable Future: The US Conference of Mayors and C2ES

The US Conference of Mayors’ focus on climate as a top issues started in 2005 when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, in support of the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, launched the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. The MCPA spread rapidly, with 1,100 mayors eventually signing on, and found a home at USCM in 2007 when the Mayors Climate Protection Center was established.

Until this week’s partnership with C2ES, a national non-profit that engages businesses in climate and energy work, it was apparent that climate issues had largely fallen by the wayside at USCM. The list of MCPA signatories has not been updated recently, and content on the Mayors Climate Protection Center had not been updated since 2009. 

However, The Alliance for a Sustainable Future promises to spur public-private cooperation on climate action and sustainable development in cities by bringing mayors and business leaders together with the goal of reducing carbon emissions, speeding deployment of new technology, and using sustainable development strategies to implement the Clean Power Plan and respond to the growing impacts of climate change. By building crucial links between cities and companies, The Alliance for a Sustainable Future hopes to spur innovative partnerships and increase participation in state and national climate efforts.

Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy: The Compact of Mayors and the EU Covenant of Mayors

Launched in 2014 by Michael Bloomberg and Ban Ki-Moon, spearheaded by Mayors Garcetti, Nutter, and Parker, and backed by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Compact of Mayors was established to generate domestic and international mayoral support for and attendance at the COP21 conference in Paris in December 2015. The goal of the Compact was to sign up 500 mayors globally by December 2015 to ensure an enhanced presence at COP21.

As a policy-oriented agreement, The Compact requests that mayors commit to developing a climate action plan within a year, and adopt a reporting protocol within three years. Formed with a base of subject-matter-expert partners, including C40 Cities, ICLEI, CDP, and Carbonn, The Compact quickly drew pledges of support from nearly 250 US mayors.

By combining forces with the EU Covenant of Mayors, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy today represents the largest global coalition committed to local climate leadership. With 7,100 cities worldwide, from 119 cities and representing more than 600 million people, the Global Covenant includes cites where more than 8% of the world’s population live today.

So, how do these new climate “supergroups” actually help ordinary people?  Numerous ways. 

  • First, scalable and replicable solutions that work on the local level take time, energy, smarts, and persistence to achieve results. As local leaders, mayors cannot possibly innovate these policies and programs on their own – they rely on the efforts of other elected leaders, in concert with policy, planning, and reporting experts who support that effort, to develop ideas that work.
  • Second, by bringing new voices, such as those of business leaders, into the conversation, innovation can happen in unexpected, and unexpectedly effective, ways. By broadening the universe of local climate leadership, climate solutions become normalized, part of doing business, and a top priority for local elected leaders.
  • Third, mayors freely admit that they are unabashed about “stealing” each other’s idea, taking them back home to benefit their own community.  The more leaders, from within and from outside of city governments, that participate in this free market of climate solutions policies and programs, the more quickly these solutions will take root locally – and the more likely it is that these positive, innovative and effective ideas will find their way into national and international discussions about how to solve the vexing impacts of our changing climate.

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