Hundreds of U.S. Mayors Commit to Reducing Carbon Emissions

     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.

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