2016 has been a roller coaster of a year when it comes to climate action. Many of the positive developments now seem under threat, and there is a growing concern that hard-fought gains may be lost as we enter into the new year. However, while climate leaders must not lose sight of the challenges, there are countless cities, communities, and neighborhoods where climate action is being pursued more strongly than ever.
“The battle for climate change will be won or lost in the cities of the world.” Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute
These are just a few of the reasons to stay hopeful about climate as we make our way through the holiday season:
- Mayors are Investing in Jobs: Investing in renewable energy means investing in the local economy. Already, there are more jobs in the renewable energy sector than in oil, gas, and fossil fuels. These are stable, domestic, and well-paying jobs for Americans, and mayors are helping spur their creation. Leaders in Philadelphia, for instance, recently announced a $1 billion green jobs program, which is slated to create 10,000 new positions over the next 10 years.
- Climate Action Means Infrastructure Development: Investments in local infrastructure development programs can revitalize communities by spurring local economies, employing residents, and connecting communities. In Portland, green initiatives to increase energy efficiency in homes, to put 50,000 electric vehicles on the road, and many others have been associated with over 45,000 jobs. Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Mayor’s office, local leaders, nonprofits, and the public recently passed Measure M, a large investment program that will help fund mass transit within the city and connect residents to local hotspots.
- Greater Action Brings Lower Bills: The costs associated with renewable technology like wind and solar are reaching all time lows. The growth of renewable sources is outpacing traditional energy generation, and brings with it lower energy spending for cities, residents, and businesses. A recent report predicts a further drop in the costs of renewables like wind by up to 30 percent by 2030. Likewise, the costs of solar are plummeting. Dropping over 60 percent in less than a decade, solar is now cost-competitive or cheaper than traditional sources of power in an increasing number of American cities. To take advantage of wind and solar, mayors and city leaders are helping residents finance rooftop and community solar—bringing renewables to communities where they may have otherwise been out of reach.
"Cities bear the brunt of climate change, and cities produce the biggest part of the emissions in the world. So this will be up to cities to solve." Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Mayors are already hard at work developing and implementing ambitious and meaningful climate action plans. Through organizations like the C40, the Compact of Mayors, ICLEI, and Path to Positive Communities, mayors are able to leverage their resources and expertise to achieve climate success. To keep informed on the positive actions taking place, subscribe to our blog at path to positive communities today!
Stuart Wood is a writer at Path to Positive Communities and an adjunct professor of political science and environmental politics. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University. Email him at [email protected]oamerica.org.
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