Address Climate Change by Accelerating Clean Energy Use
The need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a worldwide imperative. Science tells us that we are at the tipping point and action is needed right now in order to combat permanent changes to our climate. Mayors have taken a national and global leadership role in climate protection by promoting the use of renewable and alternative energy sources, investing in energy conservation programs, and designing more resilient communities. Cities have begun mitigation measures that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we remain committed to the Paris Agreement. But national action is needed.
Cities are the best sources for innovation, with so many mayors successfully pioneering and demonstrating cost-effective clean energy and efficiency solutions. Often, in cities, this means increasing the energy performance of public and private buildings, promoting greater energy independence through the use of alternative low and zero-carbon energy sources, transitioning government and private vehicles to alternative fuels as well as better fuel economy standards, and building new infrastructure to support citizens and business in switching to greener energy and transportation options.
Buildings are the nation’s top energy consumer, accounting for about 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are at the forefront of improving the energy performance of the nation’s buildings, with actions that include stronger building codes, innovative building practices, efficient construction materials, and increased use of renewable energy. Not only will these actions rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve
air quality, but they will put Americans to work in our communities.
Cutting energy use in the transportation sector, the second-largest emitter of carbon, can be accomplished by providing more and smarter transportation options. Beyond federal fuel economy standards, much of the work to reengineer existing transportation networks, services, and practices have been shouldered by local leaders.
Therefore, mayors call on the President and Congress to:
- Recommit to providing federal resources directly to cities, counties, states and tribal governments through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program to rapidly accelerate efforts to promote the use of renewable energy, implement energy conservation efforts, invest in cleaner alternative fuel options, installing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, and begin designing more resilient communities. These programs should ensure an emphasis on communities and residents in greatest need of support, such as low-income, multifamily, and small business-focused programs.
- Authorize use of these grants for energy assurance strategies designed to limit or mitigate interruption of vital energy networks and services due to natural disasters and to protect microgrids, distributed energy systems, and local energy networks from cybersecurity threats.
- Establish policies, incentives, and standards for new and existing buildings to be carbon neutral.
- Start now to establish and implement a national Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction strategy to cut nationwide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Adopt a national renewable portfolio standard and provide incentives for clean and renewable energy.
- Recommit to research at the Department of Energy to improve and promote hydropower as renewable energy, promoting energy security via energy diversity.
- Expand tax credits to purchase electric vehicles (EV) so that a major source of carbon emissions is reduced quickly and significantly.
- Create investment/grant opportunities for net-zero energy/zero energy demonstration projects and fleets at ports and airports that will promote efficient, effective innovation on a large scale.
- Support policies that allow for the responsible development of the nation’s offshore wind energy industry, including the extension of federal tax incentives and predictable, inclusive policy approaches to ocean planning, leasing, and permitting.
- Provide an Energy Decoupling Incentive program that requires states to adopt decoupling into their rate-making regulatory regime, so that utilities are incentivized to implement energy conservation programs.
- Provide incentives to the energy sector to ramp up research and investments in renewable energy to expand electric generation, and research to capture and reduce carbon emissions from clean energy.
- Develop a comprehensive solid waste strategy to reduce the amount of solid waste sent to landfills that includes: 1) an extended producer responsibility program at the national level, with incentives to encourage shared responsibility; 2) policies to shift away from single-use materials; 3) development of post-consumer content markets, and the infrastructure needed to process recyclables within the U.S.; and 4) increased efforts to more effectively reduce, reuse, recycle, and generate energy from waste.
- Provide additional resources to redevelop the estimated 400,000 to 600,000 brownfield sites as an effective means of utilizing existing infrastructure and promoting infill development while revitalizing neighborhoods, providing affordable housing and avoiding displacement of current residents. Redeveloped brownfields can also be used for microgrids and renewable energy sites.