Cities across the United States are taking aggressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease their carbon footprint on the world. Faced with extreme weather conditions over the past decades, many American cities are taking steps to prevent damage to their environment. Droughts, wild fires, severe storms, and rising sea levels have caused damage to several U.S. city’s infrastructure and environment. Taking steps to cut fossil fuel emissions in the environment is one way that cities around the country are trying to counter and prevent environmental damage. By deploying more clean energy, increasing energy efficiency, and building resilience to climate impact, cities are taking aggressive steps.
There are 4 basic ways that cities can work on climate control. Transportation changes include car-free cities, trolley service, bike boxes, zip cars, employee incentives, other plans to decrease gas emissions in the atmosphere. Building Energy helps reduce the impact on the environment by promoting renewables, establishing new standards and codes, encouraging the use of solar energy and LED lighting, building green public housing, and creating tax incentives. Waste Management focuses on turning waste into energy, combining heat with power, establishing recycling programs, developing waste water treatment, and constructing wetlands. Finally, Land Use is important to climate control. Cities are establishing community gardens, planting trees, holding Farmers’ Markets, and establishing tax incentives.
Here are 10 U.S. cities enacting major plans for climate change.
Montpelier, Vermont has one of the most aggressive climate change plans in the country. “Net Zero Montpelier” is effectively creating a carbon-neutral environment which the city hopes to reach by 2030. The city is using innovative ways and leadership to reach its goal of controlling the environment and creating resilience in damaging effects. By creating energy efficient utilities and standards, the city and leaders of Montpelier are committed to eliminate fossil fuel emissions in all of its sectors.
The city of Portland is a regional leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a sustainable environment. The city has teamed with 20 agents for its “2015 Climate Action Plan”. The goal of Portland, Oregon is to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 80% compared to the levels emitted in the 1990’s.
Boston, Massachusetts has been recognized by the federal government for taking measures to counter environmental damage. The city’s plan is to reduce greenhouse gases by 10% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Boston is the first city in the region to adopt “Green Building Zones”. With the program, new large construction is held to standards for more sustainability. The city is working with utilities on a regional micro-grid. Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission is represented by community leaders, businesses, and non- profit organizations from a variety of sectors to coordinate climate action plans.
New York City, New York
Superstorm Sandy left the city of New York with major damage in October 2012. The unexpected damage to the city’s coastal land and infrastructure was surprising. The city sustained $19 billion in damage and economic loss to the millions of people residing in this major city. The result was Mayor Bloomberg launching a climate change plan to create “a stronger, more resilient New York” in June of 2013. More than 250 initiatives were developed to reduce the city’s vulnerability to storm damage. The plan’s major focus was to use 80% of funds to repair homes and streets and to refit hospitals and nursing homes, and improve the ferry and subway systems. The plan includes using 20% of the funds to researching and restoring the swamplands and sand dunes to protect the Atlantic coast.
The city of Dubuque, Iowa has been prone to flood damage and other environmental impacts. The city has created a plan that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of levels found in 2003 by the year 2030. The city’s plan focuses on reducing the risk of the flood prone regions and creating resilience methods when the areas are flooded. A major part of Dubuque’s focus is on re-development of the community infrastructure.
Minneapolis developed the “Minneapolis Climate Action Plan”. The plan’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025 and by 80% by 2050. The city has partnered with utilities including Xcel Energy ad Cedar Point Energy to jointly market, implement, and track sustainability strategies in order to meet their joint goals.
In 2008, the city of Chicago and then-mayor Richard Daly, began the “Chicago Climate Plan” to help the city of 2.7 million become more environmentally stable. It was the first plan in the country to identify the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the environment. The plan involved 9 initiatives to deal with climates of hot summers, smog, heavy rain, and flooding. The results have been good. Studies find that the city of Chicago has more green buildings, storm water management projects, tree planting initiatives, and green roof installations to absorb rainwater. An analyst performed a comprehensive study that determined that had Chicago not enacted the plan, the results would have cost the city hundreds of billions of dollars by the year 2050.
The small Midwestern town of Oberlin, Ohio is dedicated to creating climate change and city resilience to pollution. The city has formed partnerships with Oberlin College, the utilities, industries, and international and regional non-profit organizations to make this work. The plan’s aim is to make effective changes in power production, solid waste treatment, and transportation. The aggressive plan has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and aims to reduce them by 75% by the year 2030 and by 100% by the year 2050.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco has been a pioneer in American climate change. Covering a broad range of sectors, the city has focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, water and waste treatment, and creating a green infrastructure. The city of San Francisco, California hopes to reduce harmful emissions by 25% of the 1990 levels by next year and by 40% by the year 2025.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City has developed a comprehensive combinations of environmentally sustainable programs. The programs include renewable energy, code revisions, water system updates, building policies and standards, and transportation changes. The goal is to reduce Salt Lake City’s carbon footprint by 20% below 2005 levels by the year 2020 and to further reduce damage to the environment to 50% below the levels that will be seen in 2020 by the year 2040.