Over 230 mayors from across the United States, including a significant majority of those participating in City Energy Project, strongly oppose EPA’s proposed repeal of Clean Power Plan, the first national limit on carbon emissions for existing power plants. The letter states, “[t]he Clean Power Plan . . . would enhance ongoing local efforts and enable new local initiatives to improve public health, increase air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy innovation.” But cities are not waiting for federal action—the beginning of 2018 has seen significant progress already.
New Orleans Mayor Landrieu just launched the Downtown NOLA Energy Challenge—a friendly competition to encourage building owners to reduce their energy usage and help the city become more energy-efficient. Participants will gain access to free technical support and training on efficient building operation. Leading buildings will receive recognition and awards for outstanding performance. This kind of challenge program has proved very successful in other cities such as Atlanta which has seen 11,833 tons of carbon emissions reduced since 2011 (equivalent to taking over 1,250 homes off the grid for a year).
And in San Jose, California, Mayor Liccardo has recently unveiled Climate Smart San Jose—one of the first sustainability plans in the nation that, if fully executed, will be Paris-compliant. The Plan focuses on a community approach to tackling climate change that combines ambitious carbon goals in sectors like transportation and commercial buildings with commitments to ensure all members of the San Jose community enjoy the benefits of a sustainable future. This Plan will be voted on in city council later today.
While cities can innovate and lead on climate change in way that will make meaningful impacts, they know they cannot go at it alone. As my colleague Henry Henderson explains, “cities recognize that climate change must be addressed at ALL levels of governments, which is why an increasing number of American mayors are calling for federal action to combat this threat.”
NRDC also recognizes the need to work at all levels of government. We must demand greater accountability at the federal level while nurturing climate action in cities and states. I’m proud and grateful for the City Energy Project mayors who expressed their support for the Clean Power Plan and who strive to address climate change in their communities. Your leadership is felt every day and is truly an inspiration.
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In the absence of federal leadership on climate change, America’s cities have become the vanguard of the country’s efforts to create a sustainable future.