Climate change has become a prominent topic for cities of all sizes, across the country. And in response america’s cities are stepping up to lower their carbon footprint.
As billionaire philanthropist, former New York Mayor, and UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate change Michael Bloomberg put it “Mayors don’t look at climate change as an ideological issue. They look at it as an economy and public health issue.” Leaders of cities across the country are putting their cities on the path to a greener future. Here are some prime examples:
New York City: Michael Bloomberg’s successor, Bill DiBlasio, has continued and expanded his predecessors work of reducing the carbon footprint of the nation’s largest city. The city’s 90 by 50 initiative aims to reduce the overall carbon emissions of New York by 90% by 2050 and by 30% by 2030. In a city where 70% of carbon emissions comes from electricity and heating costs, greening up the grid will go a long way, but they aren’t stopping there. With a mixture of electrifying, expanding, and incentivizing public transit, New York expects to cut carbon emissions from transportation by over 90%.
Denver: Mayor Michael Hancock has announced that Denver plans to cut 80% of carbon pollution by 2050, a bold proposal for such a fast-growing city. The agenda doesn’t stop simply by mandating cuts to carbon emissions. Plans are also in the works to revolutionize how the city commutes by investing in light rail and other public transit, ride sharing programs, and adding bike lanes. Denver has also partnered with its largest energy provider, Xcel, to move towards relying on renewable energy sources, particularly solar power.
San Francisco: Newly elected Mayor London Breed has declared a climate emergency, joining nearby localities in the Bay Area like Berkeley and Oakland in putting the fight against climate change on the front burner. Local government has not just pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, they’ve also mandated that all government buildings built after 2030 be net-carbon neutral. The city is currently on track to have their carbon emissions in 2025 be 40% below the levels in 1990.
Austin: Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s plans to combat climate change begin with performing energy efficient retrofitting on government buildings with a high energy bill. By updating this infrastructure, Austin will save millions of dollars while also lowering their carbon footprint. Other initiatives in Austin include incentivizing sales of electric and cross-over vehicles, encouraging sustainable commuting, and growing its already existing Austin Energy commercial rebate program.
Orlando: Long-serving Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s commitment to a carbon-neutral future revolves primarily around embracing alternative energy. Along with speeding up the time table to switch municipal buildings over from coal and natural gas power to solar power, Orlando will install 150 solar powered electric car charging stations across the city. They also plan on powering their entire public bus service off of solar power.
DiBlasio, Hancock, Breed, Adler, and Dyer are just some of America’s mayors who are putting their cities on the front line of combatting climate change. The leadership of these men and women, along with strong partnerships from the private sector, is exactly what America needs as we confront the massive reality of global climate change.