A common misconception among those wary of implementing bold climate action plans is that working towards sustainability comes with costs that may simply be too high. However, as technology progresses, ambitious climate action plans have become economic opportunities for communities throughout the nation—saving residents money, growing business profits, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
One shining example of how sustainability, business and governance now coexist, can be seen in the decades-long undertakings throughout the state of New York. Since 2005, State and local leaders have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 19%. This however represents only the first step. In a meeting this month with former Vice President Al Gore, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, the State set forth bold new plans that would dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next thirty years, as well as committing to an increased use of renewable energies like wind and solar. These actions were part of a larger world movement of 42 municipalities that signed a “memorandum of understanding,” committing to keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.
The steps taken by leaders in New York have been a boom for businesses and residents in the state. By committing to principles of sustainability and implementing bold climate action plans, municipalities are able to modernize energy, transportation, and waste management sectors. These programs provide opportunities for expansion and movement toward the greater goal of sustainability.
Taking on climate change makes sense for states and cities. Mayors and municipal officials can facilitate private sector growth, decrease greenhouse emissions, and increase economic opportunities. Find out how your city can be part of these solutions by joining with other leaders who have already committed to building a Path to Positive Communities.
In the fall of 1975 I found myself sitting in Lester Milbrath's Environmental Politics graduate seminar at SUNY Buffalo, talking to the teaching assistant, my now longtime friend and colleague Sheldon Kamieniecki.
I distinctly remember thinking, how did we get here? Sheldon and I are from Brooklyn, so what does environmental policy have to do with the urban issues we care about?
The environmental stuff seemed interesting, but Earth Day appeared to be a fad and the environment was, at best, a second-tier political issue. Still, despite its low priority on the political agenda, the more we analyzed the interconnected set of problems humanity faced, the more I was convinced that the environment was the central issue of our time.
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