Austin’s vulnerability to climate-related disasters, including drought, wildfires, and hurricanes, has made it especially aggressive about addressing climate change. It has committed to being net-zero greenhouse gas emitter by 2050. Its innovations in developing and spreading renewable energy have earned it awards in green technology, climate protection, and redevelopment. Austin’s pro-environmental efforts are transforming the city into a more livable place for its residents and a better one for the planet.
San Francisco, which reduced its carbon emissions by 30% between 1990 and 2016, cemented its global leadership position by hosting the 2018 Climate Action Summit this past September, which gathered 4,500 leaders from local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and business together to address climate change. The summit resulted in numerous corporate and city commitments to become carbon neutral, as well as trillions of dollars of investment in climate action.
New York City reduced its emissions by 15% between 2005 and 2015. Its residents have a carbon footprint that it only one-third that of the average American. The mayor of the financial capital of the United States has also become a champion of oil divestment.
These American cities are not alone. They are part of a global movement working to combat climate change. The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy has more than 9,000 local governments from 127 countries representing more than 770 million residents committed to making headway on climate change. C40, ICLEI, Metropolis, United Cities and Local Governments, and other organizations are helping cities find solutions that work and implement them.
As in the U.S., global cities are also making significant progress on climate change. Tokyo reduced its energy consumption more than 20% between 2000 and 2015, with the industrial and transportation sectors making astounding 41% and 42% reduction, respectively. By 2015, the city of London had reduced its emissions by 25% since 1990, and 33% since peak emissions in 2000.
These cities are not waiting for presidents and prime ministers to act, they’re making changes right now that are improving the lives of the tens of millions of their own residents by improving air quality, reducing flooding risk, and expanding green space, all while helping to bend the global emissions curve downward.