Reuters

Mayors have direct control of 75 percent of emission sources in their cities, according to a new report.

When it comes to leadership on climate change issues, don’t bother looking to the top. National governments have made little headway in developing plans and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto protocol was the start of an international conversation, but one with a limited impact. The COP 15 Climate Change Conference in 2009 resulted in little, as did its follow-up meetings in 2010 and 2011. Delegates at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development are hoping those talks will continue to develop, but recent history suggests leadership at the national level is far off.

At the local level, though, progress has been made. As we've previously reported, cities across the planet are crafting and implementing plans to adapt to and even reduce the impacts of global climate change. And according to a coalition of the world's largest cities, progress continues. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group says its 58 member cities are on a track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 248 million tons by 2020 – about 0.8 percent of global emissions.

Not a huge bite, but at least its something. C40 notes that many of these city-level efforts have been enacted without the support of national governments.

The Carbon Disclosure Project's 2012 global cities report [PDF] also asserts that mayors have direct control of over 75 percent of urban emissions sources, from municipal fleets to residential waste management to outdoor lighting to urban planning. This is a pretty striking figure.

And according to the report, city governments are responsible for 77 percent of the actions being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So while it might be nice and useful to see some leadership on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions at the national level, down at the city level there is power, funding and inclination to take action.

Photo credit: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Perspective

    Untangling the Housing Shortage and Gentrification

    Untangling these related but different problems is important, because the tactics for solving one won’t work for the other.

  2. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. a photo of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
    Life

    The Utopian Vision That Explains Renaissance Fairs

    What’s behind the enduring popularity of all these medieval-themed living-history festivals?

  4. a photo of police and residents of Stockton, CA, in a trust-building workshop
    Equity

    A Police Department’s Difficult Assignment: Atonement

    In Stockton, California, city and law enforcement leaders are attempting to build trust between police and communities of color. Why is this so hard to do?

  5. Maps

    A Comprehensive Map of American Lynchings

    The practice wasn’t limited to the South, as this new visualization of racial violence in the Jim Crow era proves.

×