Although the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate treaty, cities across the country are doing what they can to tackle climate change. Cities play an important part in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. That’s the limit that is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Achieving that goal requires big changes as soon as possible, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Making those changes will result in lower global sea level rise, the Arctic Ocean being free of sea ice in summer once per century, and coral reefs declining by 70 to 90 percent instead of virtually all of them being lost with a 2 degrees rise.
New York, the nation’s most populous city, held a recent hearing on proposed legislation to fight climate change. The legislation would require all large buildings in the city to reduce their pollution by over 80 percent through upgrading to high energy efficiency standards. Buildings are the biggest source of climate pollution in the city, responsible for about 70 percent of all the city’s emissions.
The proposed legislation, if passed, would be the first of its kind in the world and would reduce climate pollution from covered buildings by over 40 percent by 2030 and over 80 percent by 2050. The least-efficient and most polluting large buildings will be required to reduce their pollution in 2022.
Cities across the U.S. have climate change plans in place
Over 90 cities have adopted 100 percent clean energy goals. And six U.S. cities have met that goal: Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock port, and Kodiak Island. Those six cities generate 100 percent of the energy used by their communities from renewable sources. Other cities have publicly committed to reduce carbon emissions and addressing climate change.
Los Angeles has an ambitious plan called Sustainability City pLAn which requires the nation’s second most populous city to achieve zero waste by 2025. The city already has the highest recycling rate of any big city in the U.S. The plan also calls for the city to increase its local solar power. The city has the greatest amount of solar power in terms of installed capacity megawatt of any U.S. city.
Charlotte, North Carolina recently released a plan to decrease its carbon emissions. Under the plan, the city will achieve almost zero carbon emissions from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2030, and lower the per-capita carbon emissions from its residents. Charlotte received a $2.5 million grant from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation to implement its climate change plan. Charlotte is one of 20 cities the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge picked to receive grants.
Minneapolis has a climate action plan that requires the city to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The city will increase its buildings energy efficiency by retrofitting existing buildings and improving the design of new buildings. The city will also accelerate the transition to renewable energy in buildings and transportation.
Cleveland, Ohio launched its first climate action plan in 2013. Part of the plan is to have 25 percent of electricity use in the city come from renewable sources by 2030, with 15 percent by 2022. The plan also requires the city to achieve a landfill diversion rate of at least 50 percent by 2030 for both residential and commercial waste in Cuyahoga County by 2030.