In a newly released report entitled Measuring Up 2015: How US Cities Are Accelerating Progress Toward National Climate Goals, WWF and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability analyze over 100 local governments tackling climate change to support national US climate targets and policy.
The report shows how cities representing over 14% of the US population are taking responsibility to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by establishing emissions inventories, setting ambitious climate targets, and implementing and tracking action in leading voluntary reporting platforms such as the carbonn® Climate Registry (cCR).
Cities that set long-range targets significantly accelerate progress towards national climate goals. By 2035, cities with 2050 goals are anticipated to reduce over 179 million tons of carbon dioxide (C02) per year – more than three times as much as the other cities.
In the words of Lou Leonard, WWF US Vice President of Climate Change, “As first responders to the expensive and growing impacts of climate change, it makes sense that mayors are way ahead on this challenge”.
In particular, four WWF 2014- 2015 Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) cities were highlighted in Measuring Up for their pioneering and ambitious climate commitments (80% emissions reductions by 2050), performance and actions.
For example, Cincinnati, Ohio, a US WWF EHCC finalist city, is offering 100% renewable energy to its citizens through the city’s community choice aggregation program. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Clean Energy Partnership is a first-in-the nation, public-private initiative that engages local utility companies to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
Pioneers such as Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Oregon - both Compact of Mayors signatories - are exhibiting strong leadership through robust public reporting and ambitious actions.
As the first city in Georgia to develop a GHG emissions inventory in 2007, Atlanta has tracked and reduced its carbon footprint by 12.5% and prioritizes key sectors such as buildings and transport.
Meanwhile, Portland is helping to support the state-wide land-use policy to safeguard urban sprawl by establishing high-density, livable urban neighborhoods, while preserving farmland and wilderness.
Measuring Up 2015 not only showcases cities but examines common recipes for climate action success. These include the close involvement of a wide variety of stakeholders and funding and technical support from the federal level, as well as well-rounded planning and execution processes and strong leadership.
The year 2015 will be pivotal for addressing climate change. Strong vertical integration between all levels of government is required to “bridge the gap” between aggregated global climate commitments and the additional commitments and actions necessary to keep global warming below the 2°C mark.
“This report should act as an inspiration also beyond US boundaries, highlighting the critical role of local level leadership and action in the transition towards a climate resilient and renewable energy based future”, said Carina Borgström Hansson, leader of WWF’s global Earth Hour City Challenge.
Enhanced measurable, reportable, and verifiable (MRV) climate action by local governments, along with vertically integrated reporting across different levels of government, is actively supported by the carbonn® Climate Registry (cCR).
“The cCR helps to track progress and multiple benefits of action, identify problem areas, and overall enhance global climate action as a win-win-win approach”, commented Maryke van Staden, Manager of ICLEI’s Low Carbon City Agenda.
WWF and ICLEI will continue their efforts to mobilize local actions toward both sustainability and reduced GHG emissions reduction globally through the Earth Hour City Challenge, as well as joint partnerships and initiatives such as the Compact of Mayors and the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance.