87 Mayors from across the country are stepping up to meet the challenges of climate change. After years of waiting for congressional action, city and community leaders recognize that advancing climate solutions must begin at the local level. To meet this challenge, a group of dedicated international mayors—The Compact of Mayors— will attend the United National Climate Conference at the end of the month and into early December. There, the coalition hopes to push international leaders to adopt bold action plans to curb the most damaging effects of climate change. But local leaders are not waiting to act.
Bearing the costs of more devastating hurricanes, longer and more severe droughts, and rising sea levels—municipal leaders no longer have the luxury of waiting for federal action. And cities are springing into action. In New York, city leaders have committed to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next three decades. Many have begun to leverage resources to renewables, investing in infrastructure such as mass transportation systems, EV charging stations, and bike share programs. In Boston, Mayor Walsh has worked with business to increase efficiency, and has reinvested city dollars in more eco-conscious resources—like light bulbs, city vehicles, and ride share programs.
The changes being made in cities are critical elements of climate change solutions. However, they are also political winners. Climate-wise policies make cities greener, air cleaner, decrease unemployment, and boost local economies. They are being embraced by both private and public sectors—and increasingly across the political spectrum. For resources on how to act on climate in your city, check out the great resources and join Path to Positive Communities.
Years of congressional inaction on climate change have prompted civic leaders to take matters into their own hands. “The feds have fumbled the ball, and I don’t think we need to be captive to the dysfunction that happens in D.C.,” Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz told reporters in Washington last month.
Berkowitz belongs to the Compact of Mayors, an international coalition of city officials dedicated to combating climate change. The compact currently includes 87 U.S. mayors, representing one-third of all signatories. President Obama is pushing to have at least 100 U.S. civic leaders join before December’s international climate summit, even as Republican lawmakers attempt to undermine negotiations. Speaking to an audience of U.S. mayors in June, the president said that, on climate change, “You’re making a difference right now. You’re not waiting for Congress.”
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