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America’s mayors are stepping up and taking action to reduce carbon pollution in the absence of federal action and comprehensive national climate policy.

This is according to a new report released by the Alliance for a Sustainable Future – a joint effort from the US Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

The report, titled Mayors Leading the Way on Climate – 2020, which was unveiled at the 88th USCM Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., provides a detailed account of city and private programmes to reduce carbon pollution and promote sustainable development in 182 American cities.

Another report includes five detailed case studies from Los Angeles, California; Asheville, North Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; Chicago, Illinois; and Detroit, Michigan on how cities and utilities are working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mayors take action as climate change threat deepens

US cities and their economic vitality are already threatened by climate change, with nearly every city (96%) experiencing at least one climate impact in the past five years (e.g. increased intensity of weather events, pest-borne diseases or population relocation).

The report shows that 60% of America’s cities have launched or significantly expanded a climate initiative or policy over the previous 12 months, and 57% of cities will launch or significantly expand a climate initiative or policy this year.

According to the report, businesses and local officials are eager to work together to address climate change and are already doing so across the country.

Key findings from the 182 cities

1. Cities Are Promoting Clean Transportation Solutions.
Nearly 60% of city governments have green vehicle purchasing policies and an additional 26% are considering them today. Cities with this policy will account for 85% of new municipal vehicle purchases this year.

61% of cities support public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, with an additional 26% considering such action. Bike-share programs are also spreading quickly, with 93 cities reporting their presence – up from 67 cities in the previous year. 

Read more on electric vehicle markets here

2. Renewable Energy Use is Growing.
51% of cities have a renewable energy goal, and an additional 21% are considering setting a goal. 67% of cities procure renewable electricity for municipal operations. 14 cities reported covering 100% of city government electricity demand with renewable sources, an increase from 8 cities in 2018. 54% of cities help citizens and businesses adopt renewable electricity options.   

3. Cities are Taking on Building Efficiency.
Two-thirds of cities have energy efficiency policies for municipal buildings, compared to just under half of cities in 2017. Additionally, 71% of cities conduct routine energy audits for city buildings. In an emerging trend, 29% of cities also support or require reporting of energy use for commercial buildings through benchmarking.   

4. Partnerships with Stakeholders are Vital for Greater Impact.
More than 87% of cities are partnering or interested in partnering with businesses in pursuit of transportation, renewable electricity and energy efficiency solutions. Cities continue to display great interest in partnering with businesses to advance energy efficiency, renewables and low-carbon transportation.

“Cities of all sizes are dealing with the effects of climate change. In the past year, we’ve seen our communities ravaged by extreme flooding, snow and ice storms, wildfires, heatwaves and drought,” said USCM President and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett.

Barnett added: “Mayors are taking action. Cities and private partners are leading the development of programs to reduce carbon pollution and make our communities healthier, all while building the economy of the future. This problem isn’t going away, and mayors will continue working to make our cities more sustainable and protect our environment for future generations.”

“This report shows just how effective local leaders can be when it comes to tackling international issues like climate change,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “City governments are taking advantage of innovations in renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings and low-carbon transportation, and these choices have proven to be immensely valuable to our communities and our nation.”

The full report can be viewed here.