Cities are at the front lines of climate change. Many of the actions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the risks of climate change must be implemented at the local level. And many of the effects of climate change that are already occurring—from heat waves to severe storms—directly impact the life of cities.
So cities have a responsibility to address climate change in a proactive manner. The City of Cleveland is stepping up by developing a well-researched Climate Action Plan. The plan includes both municipal operations and the city as a whole. It analyzes the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and it will recommend ways that emissions can be reduced 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, the typical goals for such plans. (Disclosure: GCBL is part of the consulting team helping to develop the plan.)
As part of the plan’s community process, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability is hosting a public meeting on April 11. City residents, businesses and other stakeholders are invited to help shape the actions and policies that will save energy and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. They also will learn about ways that everyone can help adapt to the impacts of climate change and make the city more resilient.
Draft recommendations are grouped in areas where the largest emissions reductions can be achieved:
- Energy efficiency and green building
- Advanced and renewable energy
- Land use and clean water
The project has already revealing some eye-opening results that are consistent with the city’s industrial character. For instance, the blast furnaces of ArcelorMittal Steel account for almost a quarter of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Company-wide, ArcelorMittal has a goal of reducing CO2 emissions from steelmaking eight percent from a 2007 baseline by 2020.)
City officials hope the Climate Action Plan will build on the many Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiatives already underway. Ideally, it will help focus efforts on some of the most important ways to make the city more livable and economically sustainable.
For more information about climate change planning in Northeast Ohio, see GCBL’s climate project.
Leadership roles for cities on climate change
- Educate the public about the urgency to act.
- Set an example by reducing carbon emissions from municipal operations.
- Create incentives and policies that encourage residents and businesses to reduce carbon emissions.
- Promote the development of buildings, streets and neighborhoods that make it easier for people to live with less energy use.
- Practice preparedness by adapting infrastructure, public health programs, and other essential services to meet the risks of a changing climate.