US Mayors take the lead in fighting climate change

Posted: 7 July 2007

Cities throughout the USA, regardless of size, have initiated a host of actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, without significant support from their state and federal partners, finds a new survey released during the U.S. Conference of Mayors' 75th anniversary meeting in Los Angeles. ENS reports.

As of June 21, 540 mayors had signed the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, committing to reduce carbon emissions in cities below 1990 levels, in line with the United Nations Kyoto Protocol. The agreement is needed "due to an absence of federal leadership," the Conference said.

Of the 134 mayors who provided data for this first assessment of city climate protection efforts, more than four out of five said their cities now use renewable energy, or are considering beginning by next year.

"This survey clearly shows that mayors are acting decisively to curb global warming, helping fill the void left by federal inaction," said Conference President Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton, New Jersey. "Mayors are leading the way by implementing successful strategies to change human behaviour and help protect the planet."

All but four of the survey cities, or 97 per cent, are using more energy-efficient lighting technologies in public buildings, streetlights, parks, traffic signals, and other applications, or expect to by next year. Seventy-two percent of the responding mayors said that their city fleets now run on alternative fuels and/or use hybrid-electric technology. Nearly nine in 10 of the cities require, or anticipate requiring in the next year, that new city government buildings be more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.

More than three out of four of the cities are undertaking efforts to encourage the private sector to construct buildings that are energy efficient and use sustainable building techniques. During his address to the more than 200 mayors from across the nation gathered in Los Angeles, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today applauded them for their work to fight climate change.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (centre) shakes hands with Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa after his speech to the Conference of Mayors while Mayor Douglas Palmer, left, looks on. (Photo courtesy U.S. Conference of Mayors)
"Whether it is Mayor Bloomberg using hybrids to create the largest and cleanest fleet of taxis in the world, or Mayor Villaraigosa transforming the L.A. Department of Water and Power to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, your leadership is more important than ever," said the governor. "By taking action to make sure the people in your communities are doing their part for the environment, you are sending a powerful message to the federal government and to the rest of the world. And that is exactly what we have been doing in California," said Schwarzenegger.

To fight climate change, California is party to Memorandums of Understanding with other states, nations and Canadian provinces, including Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah, the State of Victoria in Australia, British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba. The governor said these agreements expand markets for clean fuels, cars and emissions credits across borders, allowing emission reductions at the lowest possible cost.

Governor Schwarzenegger introduced the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in January, which utilizes enforceable standards, market competition and flexible compliance to reduce emissions. By 2020, it will require a reduction in the carbon intensity of California's passenger vehicle fuels of at least 10 per cent.

The survey of mayors also found that more than nine out of 10 cities consider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to be part of their broader efforts to address public health concerns, such as improving air quality or encouraging active living.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All Rights Reserved.

To view the full survey results released by the Mayors Climate Protection Center, visit: www.usmayors.org