Environmental Protection

18 Cities Report Efforts to Lower GHG Emissions

U.S. municipal governments are showing leadership by voluntarily accounting for and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from their operations. They also recognize the potential to influence long-term reductions from residents and businesses in their communities, according to a new report.

The report summarizes findings of a joint project by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI), launched in 2008 to encourage cities to voluntarily disclose GHG emissions and other information related to climate change.

The CDP Cities report, written by UK-based CarbonSense, found that many cities are taking strong action to address the challenges of climate change, such as by retrofitting government-owned buildings, converting fleets to hybrids, and beginning to plan for the long-term impacts of climate change.

The 18 participating cities were Annapolis, Md.; Arlington, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Burlington, Vt.; Chicago, Ill.; Denver, Colo.; Edina, Minn.; Fairfield, Iowa; Haverford, Pa.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New Orleans, La.; New York, N.Y.; North Little Rock, Ark.; Park City, Utah; Portland, Ore.; Rohnert Park, Calif.; Washougal, Wash.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Most of the municipalities participating in the project are first taking stock of their own emissions from their government operations, before implementing broader policies and programs to reduce emissions citywide. Many are also beginning to measure the impact of the wider community on the climate where there is the potential for massive emissions mitigation. For example, Denver's government operations emissions represent 210,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, whereas the emissions from the entire city exceed 13 million metric tonnes annually.

The report says all 18 cities identify risks associated with climate change and that the participants are in the early stages of planning for the long-term impacts. Some of the responses are more developed than others. For example, the city of Chicago has developed a comprehensive risk management plan including 39 adaptation tactics such as implementing a needs assessment to evaluate drainage infrastructure and developing city-wide climate change design criteria.

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