Last week, a coalition of 26 mayors from across the nation banded together to pressure national and international leaders to take a more aggressive approach to climate change targets. Against the backdrop of the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris (COP 21), these mayors, who make up the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), issued a joint letter to President Obama.
The letter called upon the Obama Administration to push for ambitious targets that would drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions. The letter, which points out the shortcomings of congressional action, calls for federal policies that would echo the work done on the local level.
Globally, cities are responsible for consuming the majority of the world’s energy production, and likewise they produce the majority of carbon dioxide emissions. Such environmental challenges present cities with the greatest opportunities to make a difference, in spite of federal and international inaction. Recognizing their unique position as city leaders, the 26 mayors from across the country took action, and coalesced to develop a plan to affect environmental concerns in their communities.
The highly publicized letter reflects the initial success of the MNCAA, which is based on a number of key tactics:
- Coalition Building: MNCAA has developed a strong core—enlisting 26 mayors from across the country. They come from across the political spectrum—from local, suburban, and urban communities—and represent varying socioeconomic constituencies.
- Clear Platform: The diversity of the MNCAA is matched by the solidarity of its commitment for local climate solutions. Each member acknowledges their unique position to implement climate policies that will directly enrich the lives of their constituents. Their actions positively affect the environment, and their community.
- Concise Message: MNCAA’s stated mission is simply a call for “binding emission reductions at the US federal level as well as a global emission reductions agreement.”
- Concrete Strategy: With a strong coalition and a clear platform, the MNCAA has mapped out avenues to achieve their climate goals. This involves a call for action at both the national and international level. Equally important is the MNCAA’s focus on tying climate action to the interests of the American people. The MNCAA builds support based upon community enrichment, striving to ensure the sustainability of local assets, and the practical application and protection of city resources.
The Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA) provides local and state government officials an effective template for affecting policy changes at the national and international levels. By building coalitions, identifying a clear policy platform, identifying and communicating with key constituencies, and implementing a sound strategy—government leaders can successfully work towards implementing effective climate policies. Moreover, the initial success of the MNCAA shows that the actions of 26 Mayors can reverberate nationally and internationally. More importantly, it provides hope for those in government who want to have a more meaningful impact on the environment, and to enrich their communities.
The challenges for approaching climate change are real, but there are simple and effective ways of working towards climate solutions, which leaders at all levels of government can use. One particularly empowering step is to join the Path to Positive community. Here, government officials may find useful guides for communicating the advantages of acting on climate change. Resources for identifying new constituencies, increasing civic participation, and raising one’s profile are also available with an active network of community leaders.
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