This has been a banner week for climate. While community leaders, mayors, and local officials throughout the country work to develop and implement climate action plans—several in particular stand out. The common thread between the approaches these cities are taking is that through bold action, mayors, councils, and municipal leaders are able to significantly address a changing climate, while improving local communities.
Setting Bold Goals
In an historic announcement this week, the Los Angeles City Council set fourth one of their most ambitious moves on climate yet. Simply put, the plan sets the stage to transform the city to 100% renewables. As the second largest city in the United States, making the switch from traditional energy sources to renewables is no easy feat. While still in its early stages, the motion by the Council instructs the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to develop a plan to cut the city’s dependence on dirty energy. The details and a timeline have yet to be provided, but such actions by city leaders demonstrate a commitment to climate action. The possible transition to 100% renewables is just one in a long line of ambitious successes in Los Angeles—a city that has proven itself a climate leader.
“[T]he city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels.” Los Angeles City Council members Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin
Bringing Community Benefits through Climate Action
Leadership in Los Angeles shows that serious climate action can and must be accomplished at the city level. And for good reason. Implementing bold action plans is not only beneficial to the climate, but improves the lives of residents and builds strong communities.
Los Angeles has committed to long term efficiencies by replacing the familiar warm sodium-vapor lights with LED bulbs, saving the city $9 million per year in electricity costs, cutting 60,000 metric tons of CO2, and providing energy that is being redirected to EV charging stations. Measures like these save tax payers, make the air cleaner for residents, and provide valuable charging stations to reward electric vehicle drivers.
Just this week, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced a joint effort to address climate change in their neighboring cities. While the plan is being lauded as a win for the environment, it is being implemented in conjunction with efforts to invest in the regions infrastructure, transportation, and affordable housing. This multi-sector approach illustrates that acting on climate must be included in any municipal plan which seeks to build communities and improve the lives of residents.
“The challenges of addressing deeply complex issues like climate change, aging infrastructure, affordable housing, and inequity are better met when working in partnership.” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
Similarly, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s office announced an historic agreement establishing unprecedented clean energy goals for the city. In conjunction with the region’s electricity utility, Rocky Mountain Power, the city over the next 5 years will establish a path to meeting Salt Lake City’s renewable commitments. This will aid previous groundbreaking decisions passed in July, which aim to source 100% of the city’s electricity from renewable sources by 2032, and slash fossil fuel emissions by 80% over the next two decades.
“We need to put strong action behind our pledges to clear our air and address the threat of climate change.” Mayor Jackie Biskupski.
Throughout the country, mayors and city leaders are increasingly taking the lead on climate action. Whether through retrofitting and developing infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest, partnering with utilities in Salt Lake City, or committing to 100% renewables in Los Angeles.
What each of these paths towards developing effective strategies share is a bold commitment to act on climate. To identify similar ways that you can affect change in your community, check out the resources and join Path to Positive Communities today.
Stuart Wood is a writer at Path to Positive Communities and an adjunct professor. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University, where he focused on climate change, political communications and psychology. Email him at [email protected]
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