Washington, D.C. – America’s mayors continue to lead the fight against climate change through innovative policies and programs that are building climate resiliency, promoting the use of clean energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cities across the country. In recognition of the 52nd Earth Day, U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez released the following statement:
“As mayors, we have a responsibility to protect our environment, our residents and our economies – today and for future generations. In cities of all sizes, mayors are setting ambitious climate goals and making their cities cleaner, healthier, more resilient, and more equitable. This is a challenge on a global scale, requiring action across all levels of government, but it is mayors who are leading right now. With so much energy, enthusiasm and commitment at the local level, I am confident that together we can tackle the great challenge of our generation.”
Here are just a few examples of climate plans and initiatives from cities across America:
Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler
Austin has set a goal for all power in the city to be 100% carbon-free by 2035. To get there, the city has begun transitioning the city’s fleet to electric vehicles, a step that will save the city an average of $1,300 per vehicle, or an estimated $3.5 million over the next ten years.
Beverly, Massachusetts Mayor Michael Cahill
Beverly has begun transitioning its school fleet to fully electric vehicles and is rapidly building electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the city. The city also recently opened a new police station heated and cooled by geothermal energy and has performed energy efficiency work in all schools and most city buildings.
Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Vi Lyles
Charlotte has begun installing electric vehicle chargers throughout the city and converting the city’s bus fleet to electric vehicles. In addition, the city is working to improve the efficiency of the public transit system, including by building new bicycle paths and greenways.
Columbus, Ohio Mayor Andrew Ginther
Columbus has developed a Climate Action Plan that aims to reduce emissions by 45% before 2030 and create a completely carbon neutral city by 2050. To meet this goal, the city has partnered with local electricity providers to launch the Clean Energy Columbus initiative, which will provide residents and businesses with affordable, Ohio-based renewable energy.
Los Angeles, California Mayor Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles has more than 500 megawatts of local solar power installed, enough to power over 140,000 homes. The city is also expanding its renewable portfolio with the Eland Solar and Storage Center, the largest solar and battery storage facility in the country, and the Red Cloud Wind Farm.
Mesa, Arizona Mayor John Giles
Mesa has set ambitious goals in its climate action plan, including attaining carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by 2050. To get there, the city recently purchased the first electric firetruck in the U.S. and is beginning to replace its entire fleet of light-duty trucks with electric vehicles. The city has also partnered with Arizona State University to put its wastewater to work by using algae-growing membranes to remove carbon dioxide and create oxygen, healthy biomass and biofuel.
Honolulu, Hawaii Mayor Rick Blangiardi
In 2016, Honolulu launched a new Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. Since taking that step, the city has committed to being carbon neutral by 2045 and has quintupled its production of solar energy. Honolulu has also been upgrading city facilities through an Energy Service Company partnership, bringing electric vehicles into the city fleet and measuring energy and water usage in city facilities.
Houston, Texas Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston recently transformed a former landfill into one of the largest urban solar farms in the country through the Sunnyside Landfill Solar Project. Tens of thousands of solar panels will soon produce enough energy to power 5,000 homes, meaning cleaner energy for the city and lower power bills for Sunnyside families.
Phoenix, Arizona Mayor Kate Gallego
Phoenix has been investing in public charging stations to incentivize people to purchase electric vehicles and recently unveiled 20 new charging stations at the Phoenix Zoo. The city is also committed to addressing heat issues, which is why the city launched a new Heat Reponses and Mitigation Office and an initiative to plant more trees, particularly in low-income communities.
Sacramento, California Mayor Darrell Steinberg
Sacramento is encouraging water conservation by offering rebates up to $1,500 for homeowners to replace their lawns with landscaping that will require less water to maintain. More than one million square feet of grass has been replaced since the program began, and the city has received more than 1,000 applications from residents who want to upgrade their irrigation systems, install smart irrigation controllers and replace their toilets.
San Diego, California Mayor Todd Gloria
Cities account for an estimated 70% of global CO2 emissions. In San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria is exploring decarbonization strategies that would not only make the city more sustainable, but would create good-paying jobs in the process. His office recently released a study of building decarbonization policies to gauge impacts on the San Diego workforce via an ongoing clean-energy transition.
Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard
Since 1997, Mayor Jim Brainard has installed more than 140 traffic roundabouts — more than any other American city — to reduce the city’s carbon emissions. Since modern roundabouts don’t have red lights where cars sit and idle, they don’t burn as much gasoline. It’s estimated that each roundabout saves about 20,000 gallons of fuel annually.
San José, California Mayor Sam Liccardo
Last year, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo pledged to make the city carbon neutral by the end of the decade, becoming one of the largest cities in the United States to have set the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. And, under Mayor Liccardo’s leadership, the City launched a community choice energy program that offers all San José residents cleaner, cheaper power than PG&E, with the option to upgrade to 100% renewable energy. The program reduces GHG emissions by more than 30%.
Additional stories of mayors’ innovation on climate action — including Wichita, KS Mayor Brandon Whipple; Denver, CO Mayor Michael Hancock; New Orleans, LA Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Cambridge, MA Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui; and Miami, FL Mayor and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Francis Suarez — are included in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ latest climate report: “Cities Advancing Climate Action: Leveraging Federal Funds for Local Impact — A Resource Guide.” This report was created by the Conference’s Alliance for a Sustainable Future chaired by Salt Lake City, Utah Mayor Erin Mendenhall.