On the heels of some of the hottest years on record, political leaders around the world are finally waking up to the necessity of taking bold action on climate. 2015 had some banner achievements: the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, defeating the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the COP21 Paris agreements were only a few of the major victories. However, much of the work on climate, which gets less attention, is being rolled out in cities. Mayors and city leaders are showing that advancing solutions at the local level is good for communities, and good for the climate.
Actions at the local level are as diverse as the locations, residents and communities that define those cities. However, three cities in particular prove to be shining examples for both the differences in approaches, and common experiences of success.
In Portland, city officials have tightened regulations on fossil fuel transportation within city limits. Community leaders and residents have implemented bold recycling and composting programs, and there is a growing shift to public transportation and cycling over cars. Vancouver, a city of over 600,000 residents, has committed to becoming 100% powered by renewable energy by 2050, and has implemented a bold action plan to achieve this. In Stockholm, city leaders have slashed per capita greenhouse emissions by almost half, and will be fossil fuel free by 2040.
These cities have all committed to bold action. They have also seen the benefits from getting serious about climate solutions. In each of these cities, economies have boomed, and all have experienced remarkable job growth. Climate solutions, as these city leaders have recognized, bring community benefits.
Portland, Stockholm, Vancouver and a growing number of cities around the globe, of all sizes, are making a commitment to develop and implement ambitious climate action plans. The most important work on climate is being done at the local level—and the benefits are shared. Cities see economic growth, residents have happier and healthier places to live and raise families, there is greater access to stable, well paying jobs. And the environment benefits. These initiatives represent serious progress in addressing the sources and consequences of climate change, and leaders like you are now needed to act. Find out how to take part, and lead your city on the Path to Positive Communities.
This week, NOAA and NASA announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record globally, by a wide margin. Earlier this month, NOAA reported that 2015 was the second hottest year on record in the United States, driving increasingly costly and frequent extreme weather events. Local record high temperatures are now commonplace (see Climate Nexus' local record temperatures tracking tool here).
That's the bad news — bad news that, we can be sure, will continue coming until we collectively do something serious about it. But here's the good news: We as a global community are starting to get serious about doing something about it.
The world's leading cities have been working to alleviate climate change for a while now. The cities that make up the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance like Portland, Stockholm and Vancouver have committed to working to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050 or sooner, the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets undertaken by any cities across the globe.
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