U.S. Cities Struggle to Hit Climate Change Targets
“The 355 U.S. cities in 49 states that have committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will miss their goals unless they redouble their efforts,” says John Bailey, author of a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “Lessons from the Pioneers: Tackling Global Warming at the Local Level.”
The report praises the signatories to the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement for taking responsibility for the impact of their own consumption behavior on global warming. The initiative commits cities to lower their greenhouse gas emissions emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels.
“The sheer number of these Kyoto cities promises an interesting mix of strategies and a steep learning curve as communities discover from one another what works and what doesn’t,” Bailey observes.
The report, a look at 10 of the most visible and successful cities involved in global warming solutions, finds that only one city, Portland, Oregon, has come close to keeping the growth of greenhouse gas emissions down. Its citywide emissions are less than one percent above 1990 levels, the benchmark for the Kyoto Protocol.
This international treaty obliges 35 industrialized nations, but not the United States, to limit their greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5.2 percent in the five years 2008 – 2012.
Except for Portland, cities’ emissions increased between 6.5 percent and 27 percent over 1990 baseline measurements.
The study found that the most significant factor accounting for differences in greenhouse gas emissions among cities was the amount of fossil fuels used in generating their power.
Data gathering methodologies were found to differ among communities, making comparisons between cities difficult.
The report concludes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels will be a major challenge that many cities may fail unless complementary state and federal policies are put in place.
The report, “Lessons from the Pioneers: Tackling Global Warming at the Local Level,” is online at: www.newrules.org.
Source: Environmental News Service (ENS).