Local Policies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction

  • June 9, 2017
  • COWS
  • Mayors Innovation Project

President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement is a clear shirking of responsibility on behalf of the federal government, but across the country, organizers, activists, mayors, governors and others are only increasing their commitment to the principles of the agreement. Mayors and their cities have many ways to contribute to sound climate policy and carbon reduction. Here we introduce some of the key ways that cities can make a difference in the face of federal inaction.

Local governments have jurisdiction over or significant influence on a number of greenhouse gas emission sources, including building energy use, transportation, water infrastructure, sewer treatment, and waste management. Buildings, for example, account for almost 40 percent of US emissions, and their energy use is subject to municipal regulation in the form of building codes, benchmarking requirements, zoning, and more. Transportation produces 30 percent of US GHG emissions, and is heavily influenced by local planning and investment. Most transit systems are run  by local or regional authorities. The waste sector alone is responsible for 2.3 percent of US GHG emissions, and is almost entirely under local control.