Cities have a major role to play in the global mobilization to mitigate and avert climate disasters, and cities world-wide are stepping up to the task.

The Scientific American writes Cities will solve climate change, not nations.

As does The Guardian, in this article Cities bypass slow government to lead the way on climate change.

Even John Kerry knows cities hold the key to fighting climate change, where he says “A lot of mayors around the world are ahead of their national governments, and a lot of local citizens are well ahead of their elected leaders,”, reminding us that “..cities are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. And cities are simply better equipped to turn talk into action.” This article has a reference to Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda signed by Philadelphia Mayor Nutter, and platform of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

What are other cities are doing? Let’s see…

  • New York City’s Climate Works for All
    We particularly like their focus on reducing emissions. And involvement with unions. See chapter 2 – Large Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits. And chapter 5 – Solar on 100 largest schools.
  • New York City’s One City, Built to Last 
    A plan for 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050
  • NYC again, aiming for 90% carbon reduction by 2050
  • Seattle’s Getting to Zero: A Pathway to a Carbon Neutral Seattle 
  • Oakland Climate Action Coalition – Aiming for 85% by 2050
  • Boulder
    Per Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything, the citizens voted for a public energy utility so they could bring more renewables on board.
  • San Francisco’s push for Renewable Energy
    Take a look at the CleanPowerSF program, SF’s community Choice Aggregation Program, which allows cities and counties to pool their citizens’ purchasing power to buy electricity. And their GreenFinanceSF program, which allows commercial property owners to finance renewable energy projects, as well as energy and water efficiency, through a municipal bond and repay the debt via their property tax account.
  • Chicago’s Climate Action Plan

What next after benchmarking energy use for large buildings?

The US Dept of Energy (DOE) has a Better Buildings challenge, and there are a number of cities signed up as partners (DC, Pittsburgh, many others).  These cities are not committing to reductions for space they don’t control, but are committing to work with owners to facilitate that upgrades happen.

See, for example, DC’s entry:  The District has long-term commitment to energy efficiency programs and policies that support the Better Buildings Challenge, including a benchmarking and disclosure regulation for over 3,000 private commercial buildings, making the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) a one-stop shop for the District’s energy efficiency solutions and resources and the creation of energy efficiency financing tools targeted at commercial building owners. These financing tools and products will provide at least $225million in competitively-priced capital to commercial owners over the next nine years to fund energy efficiency improvements. The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (“BID”) and the DowntownDC ecoDistrict have accepted the Better Buildings Challenge in partnership with the District of Columbia and Mayor Vincent Gray.