Mayors from around the nation met this week in Dallas, Texas to discuss the issues important to their communities – and one of the major topics this year was climate change. Mayors from New Orleans to Seattle and everywhere in between signed a pledge to fight climate change by promoting energy independence at a local, state and federal level, reducing emissions in their own cities and working towards developing renewable energy alternatives. Additionally, for the first time ever, mayors are pledging to help their cities adapt to the changing climate and to help support local grassroots initiatives.
Given the fact that only half of Americans are convinced that manmade climate change exists, getting over a thousand mayors from across the nation – including from conservative states like Mississippi and Arizona – to come together and pledge to fight climate change is a big deal. The pledge was first launched 10 years ago and urged mayors to adhere to goals consistent with those of the Kyoto Protocol and this year it pushes the pledge for change even further.
USCM President (and Sacramento mayor) Kevin Johnson hasn’t been afraid to fight for change, and he acknowledged that mayors are often the ones driving sustainability within their cities. The pledge promises that each mayor will attempt to meet or exceed local targets for energy use, water use and encourage conservation efforts, from bicycle trails and anti-idling campaigns to landfill methane recovery and investing in renewable energy technology. The pledge also requires that mayors urge federal representatives to take action on a national level through the Clean Air Act and renewable energy programs.
To be fair, the conference itself wasn’t exactly a model of environmentally-friendly restraint. The conference included four days of lavish parties, including dinner on the field of a football stadium, private concerts and fireworks. But given the range of topics that the conference addressed which, in addition to climate change, included support for same sex marriage and protecting local jobs, we’d say that they mayors in attendance are definitely taking steps in the right direction. , “Mayors are united more than ever to tackle the problems associated with climate change. When we started this effort in 2005, we thought we had more time to act. Climatic events of late tell us we have to accelerate our efforts at every level. Regardless of your politics, people realize we’ve made a mess of our climate and our environment and we need to clean it up,” said Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard.