The USA is the 2nd largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. It is also a major player in international climate change negotiations but has been lacking the political will to commit to climate protection. This hasn't stopped cities of tackling the issue of climate change locally: many local governments have climate action plans and ambitious targets for cutting their GHG emissions.
The State of California at the head is adopting statewide climate policies and regulations. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is expected to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Moreover, a law to redesign communities to reduce greenhouse gases connects land use with carbon reduction goals. By offering carrots, the regulations encourage cities to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy that requires new development to be near transit or clustered with existing development. Many Californian local governments, Santa Monica, Pasadena and Los Angeles, for example, have already implemented green building standards and resource GHG emissions programs.
At the same time, Austin, Texas is the first city in the US committing to going carbon neutral. Interestingly, Austin is the Capitol of a conservative state that is the national leader in greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, Austin resolved to make city facilities, vehicles and operations carbon-neutral by 2020 and move the city-owned energy utility toward this goal over time. To this end, a Climate Action Plan targeting four areas: municipal operations, utility, homes and buildings, and community, is to be developed and implemented. In Austin, an integrated approach to climate work has been adopted: An inventory of greenhouse gas emissions has been completed for all city departments and a Climate Action Team composed of representatives from all city departments is working on department-specific plans to attain the municipal goal, as well as greenhouse gas-reduction strategies specific to their roles across all four areas.
SolveClimate.com / Patricia Kirk
Pictures: Cities of Los Angeles and Austin
California Climate Change Portal
CoolCalifornia: Local Government Case Studies
Austin Climate Protection Program: CoolAustin.org
1 year ago