¬†¬†¬†¬† More than 800 mayors of U.S. cities are not waiting for the federal government to get serious about global warming.¬† Instead, they are taking matters into their own hands.¬† These mayors have signed an agreement pledging to cut their cities’ carbon emissions to¬†7% below 1990 levels by 2012.¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† This goal, to reduce¬†greenhouse gas emissions which¬†contribute to global¬†warming,¬†was established at a 1997¬†conference in Kyoto, Japan, and¬†embraced by the governments of more than 130 countries.¬†¬†But despite urgings from many quarters, the U.S. government has refused to sign on.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Seattle’s mayor Greg Nickels, a widely acknowledged¬†environmental leader, was the first U.S. mayor to decide not to wait for leadership at the federal level.¬† In 2005, he committed his city to meeting the international target.¬† Since then, 805 more mayors¬†have joined¬†Nickels in signing the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Climate Protection Agreement.¬† In signing the Agreement, these mayors have also committed¬†to urge their state government and¬†the federal government to do more to stop global warming. ¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† These mayors are serious.¬†¬†To help them fulfill the commitment they¬†made, they have created and staffed the USCM Climate Protection Center.¬† The Center provides the mayors with guidance and assistance to lead their cities’ efforts.¬† The Center has issued a Best Practices manual, and the mayors meet annually to¬†share their successes and their ideas for making further progress toward their goal.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Following are just a few¬†of the changes some of the mayors have brought about in their cities:
**Syracuse adopted an ordinance requiring all municipal building projects to meet green-building standards.
**Chattanooga has reduced downtown car use by establishing a free, electric bus system that serves the downtown and riverfront areas.
**Albuquerque’s city government now gets¬†15% of its energy¬†from wind power.
**Sacramento’s City Hall is among the greenest 5%¬†of large office buildings in the nation.¬†¬†
**In Seattle, more than 50 area businesses have joined the Seattle Climate Partnership.¬† The Partnership provides businesses with¬†technical help in reducing their carbon footprint.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Nickels observes that there is a friendly rivalry among the mayors to outdo one another.¬† But such¬†rivalry is a good way, he says, to spur all¬†the mayors to work¬†harder to reduce pollution, conserve energy, and create ‘green collar’ jobs in their communities.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Cities large and small, in every state,¬†are part of the effort.¬†¬†All told,¬†the 806 cities whose mayors have signed on total¬†more than 78 million Americans.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† What you can do:¬† Find out if¬†your city’s mayor¬†has signed the Climate Protection Agreement by¬†taking a look at the list of 806 mayors who have signed on:¬† www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/list.asp
¬†¬†¬†¬† If your mayor is on the list, give him or her a call to say thanks.¬† Ask what has been done in your city thus far to meet the CO2 emission reduction goal, and what plans exist for continued action.¬†¬†You may even want to volunteer to help out.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† If your mayor is not on the list, give him or her a call¬†and ask why not.¬† You can exert a little peer pressure by telling your mayor (or your mayor’s representative) which other cities in your state have signed on.¬† That information can be found by clicking on www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/ClimateChange.asp¬† and clicking on your state.¬†¬†You’ll see a list of cities in your state¬†whose mayors have signed the Agreement.¬† Urge your mayor to sign on and to¬†get help from the USCM Climate Protection Center.¬† You may even want to volunteer to help your city meet the emissions reduction goal.