Representing three of the United States' five largest cities, Mayors Garcetti, Nutter, and Parker recognize that they have an obligation to lead nationally on the shared challenge of mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They see the need to go from commitments to action, with the hope that local leadership can ultimately model and drive a federal agenda towards binding emissions targets. By committing to a set of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the carbon market, this Commitment to Action is intended to declare that these are not only viable, but essential initiatives that must be embraced and scaled across the country.
Each of the cities commits to setting a greenhouse gas reduction goal, developing an implementation plan that drives these goals forward through policies and programs, conducting regular GHG inventories (preferably with third party verification), and registering eligible projects through the existing California cap and trade program. Collectively this effort will be called 'The Mayors National Climate Action Agenda.'
Houston and Philadelphia will be the first big cities outside of the State of California to voluntarily align with the California cap and trade program. Houston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles will each explore and develop climate offset projects that, if eligible under existing protocols, will be registered, measured, and verified through the Climate Action Reserve, the largest carbon offset registry in North America. Concurrently, they will work with partners to explore opportunities for cities to more readily participate in cap-and-trade programs and markets (e.g. exploring the potential for new protocols).
Further, the Mayors Garcetti, Parker, and Nutter will reach out through their existing networks to numerous other cities to share their work and encourage more cities to join in making a multi-faceted Commitment to Action. The Mayors also believe that action at the local level needs to be supported and ultimately scaled by national policies. To this end, they have recommended to The White House, via the President's Climate Task Force, the creation of a framework that can connect to an emerging federal program which could conceivably provide cities that commit to the above with additional points on federal funding applications and/or enhanced eligibility along with some targeted/limited funding.
The approach in each city will be as follows:
1) Have or set an aggressive GHG emissions reduction target.
2) Have or develop a climate action plan, which identifies specific strategies for meeting the emissions reduction target.
3) Inventory and encourage standardization of municipal and community-wide GHG emissions (preferably with third party verification).
4) Find an eligible project and commit to an offset protocol via the California cap and trade program that is either regulatory or voluntary compliant, and register the project with the Climate Action Reserve.
The commitment will work toward November 2015 as the target date to get the greatest numbers of mayors to sign on to the Agenda, get offset projects underway, and conclude a year-long communications campaign of mayors on the need for binding emission reductions, cap and trade, and need for action.
The action plan by quarter will be:
Identify mayors to target to sign-on and create strategy to secure support
Create communications plan and raise funds needed
Identify offset projects for initial sign-on cities, and convene meeting to remove obstacles for participation
Q1 to Q3 2015
Enlist previously identified mayors
Develop and execute communications plan
Identify eligible offset projects
Work with Climate Action Reserve and others to explore opportunities for additional city participation
Work through existing networks on enhancing city GHG reporting, considering a centralized means of third party verification
Q3 and Q4 2015
Hold in-person and/or virtual convening of mayors
Execute social and viral messaging campaign
Showcase offset project(s)
Release updated GHG inventories by the three participating cities
Mayors see the effects of a changing climate and extreme weather in their communities in very real ways that have compelled them to act during their time in office.
Given that cities are responsible for 70 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are on the front lines of climate events and impacts, mayors are uniquely equipped to lead on climate change. Given the unwillingness of the US Congress to support binding emission reductions, it is critical for mayors and cities to not only reduce GHGs in their communities, but also help to create urgency for both federal legislation and a global emission reductions agreement.
Further, mayors have a unique voice and opportunity to act, lending additional credibility and potency to their message and actions. Over the coming year, mayors leading on climate change can help to build support and political will for President Obama to lead globally in creating an international agreement to be signed at the 2015 Paris Conference of the Parties of the U.N Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce GHG emissions. With subnational governments having a seat at the table for the first time in the UNFCC process, mayors also can play a direct role in supporting the international agreement.
The three cities - Los Angeles, Houston, and Philadelphia - have come together to partner on this critical issue through a number of initiatives, including: C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.
The idea for a collective strategy builds off of these existing efforts and grew from a meeting of the President's Climate Task Force, of which Mayors Garcetti, Parker, and Nutter are members. Further support from Governor Jerry Brown to encourage cities and states to act on emission reductions led to California's commitment to assist with any effort.