Equilibrium & Sustainability

Twenty-five U.S. cities on track to surpass Paris climate targets by 2025: report

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Twenty-five major U.S. cities are on track to collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emission by 32 percent by 2025 — surpassing international climate agreement goals, a new report has found.

Together, these 25 American cities are expected to reduce 74 million metric tons of carbon emissions through 2030, while achieving targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement midway through the decade, according to the report, issued by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The cities participated in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, launched in 2019 “with the goal of turbocharging” environmental action already taking place on a municipal level throughout the country.

“Cities play a critical role in the fight against climate change, and this report shows just how much progress is possible when they are empowered to do more, faster,” Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy on climate ambition and solutions, said in a statement.

The American Cities Climate Challenge, he said, shows “that it’s possible for the U.S. not just to meet our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement — but to exceed them.”

In those commitments, made at the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, the U.S. set a goal of achieving an economy-wide target of reducing emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025.

Each participating country submitted its own nationally determined contributions in Paris, with the overall aim of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). A U.N. report from earlier this week, published ahead of next week’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, showed that while countries have demonstrated a “commitment to act,” the world is collectively “nowhere near” that critical goal.

The 25 cities that participated in Bloomberg’s climate challenge altogether approved 54 major green building, energy and transportation policies and launched 71 new climate programs — leading to the integration of more than 800 megawatts of renewable power, the development of 510 miles of bike lanes and the deployment of more than 1,1000 electric vehicles, according to the report.

“Cities acting together can have a powerful impact on our ability to protect the environment and shrink our collective carbon footprint,” Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “We are on a mission in DC to become the healthiest, greenest, and most sustainable city in the world.”

D.C., along with Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., have put equity at the center of their climate initiatives, taking steps to rework policies like congestion pricing and create zero-emissions zones with local community leaders, the study said.

Both Boston and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., launched new electric car sharing programs for underserved communities, with the goal of improving transportation access, according to the report.

The Minnesotan system, called the EV Spot Network, aims to “cut emissions and help us build an even more sustainable and resilient city for our children and grandchildren,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. 

“As temperatures continue to rise and extreme weather events become more frequent, we must double down on our efforts to ensure a clean energy transition and a healthy, equitable environment for all,” added Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Meanwhile, both Cincinnati and San Antonio passed two major ballot measures that amassed significant funding for better public transportation — which the mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, said is “making transit more accessible for our growing community while reducing emissions.”

Cincinnati also broke ground on the largest municipal solar farm in the country, John Cranley, the city’s mayor, said in a statement. Doing so, he added, is “a major step toward our 100% renewable energy goal and a driver of new, green jobs.”

The city of Denver, according to the report, passed a ballot measure that created a sales-tax increase that will bring about $40 million in annual revenue to fund climate projects. At least half of that money will be “directed toward at-risk low-income neighborhoods and communities of color,” said Michael Hancock, the city’s mayor.

Other cities that participated in the climate challenge included Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; San Diego; San Jose, Calif.; St. Louis; and St. Petersburg, Fla.

“Cities stand on the front lines of the climate emergency, and we know what solutions are needed to address it,” said Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles. “Fighting this crisis is a moral necessity, an environmental imperative, and an economic opportunity.”

Tags Climate change Eric Garcetti Jacob Frey Michael Bloomberg Muriel Bowser

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