Chronic inaction on climate change by national and international governments has made many refocus efforts at getting local governments to take action. Many have called for national government support and financial assistance to communities so that monetary aid is more accessible to already cash strapped cities. However, a new breed of local climate actors have been cropping up around the nation—relying on community networks rather than state or federal support.
A pilot program in New York offers a prime example of how local communities can support one another to advance climate solutions. The coalition of communities offers free assessment tools that help communities determine the primary sources of their greenhouse gas emissions, and helps them to identify the best solutions for addressing these tremendous climate concerns. Cities are also encouraged to make climate friendly policies their default—installing bike lanes and mass transit to encourage more sustainable living. These community led networks are in their infancy, but offer a promising new model for climate action.
Local communities and city leaders know best how to meet the needs of their residents, and these networks offer much needed tools for meeting such demands. The smaller the community, the more nimble and able to act on climate, and empowering these communities just may be the key to achieving rapid climate solutions. To find out how your city can connect with climate leaders and begin to act, visit Path to Positive Communities.
As state and federal governments continue to fail at halting climate change at the global and national levels, smaller communities have a great opportunity to take change-making initiative. Without assistance from national governments, municipal environmental groups have set up their own local peer-to-peer networks, and indigenous communities like the Lubicon Cree First Nation have reclaimed tar sands for solar. Supporting the expansion of such projects from one community to another could be the key for rapid and inclusive action, and this grassroots domino effect could make it less likely that climate action is an elitist and expensive imposition.
In my small village of Sleepy Hollow, New York, I’m trying to put us on the map for something other than fictional horror stories, looking at these existing initiatives where other small communities are already taking the lead on climate action in the face of higher-level indifference and even pushback.
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