Cities Are Key Players in the Fight Against Climate Change

Today, the Obama Administration made an important investment in the way American cities fight climate change. The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the Better Communities Alliance. This is a partnership designed to help cities meet their own climate and energy targets and, at the same time, create more prosperous places for everyone. Over 30 cities and counties from Anchorage, Alaska to Florida’s Miami-Dade County, along with more than 25 businesses, foundations and non-profits, have signed up to participate in the Alliance.

American cities use more energy to heat, cool, and light buildings than all of the energy consumed in every other country in the world, outside of the U.S. and China. The pollution generated by vehicles within our cities contributes more to global warming pollution than the entire economies of France, Brazil, the United Kingdom or Canada. This means U.S. mayors have the power to lower emissions on the scale of most heads of states. But to meet this goal, they will need additional resources and expertise.

It is important for all sectors—business, government and non-profit—to join together to help our mayors innovate and become part of the solution to climate change, while at the same time improving their local economy.

We each bring specific expertise to facing this challenge. That’s why NRDC’s Urban Solutions program is proud to be part of the Better Communities Alliance. The City Energy Project works with mayors, businesses, building owners, and local groups in 10 cities to make the large buildings become more efficient. The building efficiency policies and programs these cities adopt can help prevent more than 7 million tons of carbon pollution in 2030 alone. That’s the equivalent of removing over 1.4 million cars from the road. At the same time, it will save more than $1 billion in energy bills. This is a reinvestment in our urban core.

Urban Solutions’ work on transportation creates options to get people out of their cars and lower those associated costs. This is critical for low income households, whose transportation expenses have risen 50 percent over the past 15 years, according to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Together, we can reinvest in, and reform, our communities to make living and working in them more affordable, convenient and sustainable.

We are proud to be a part of this initiative, and look forward to assisting these mayors and recruiting more mayors to join this powerful and ambitious effort.

About the Authors

Jason Babbie

Senior Director, Strategy and Operations, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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