A Local Climate Action Agenda

Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity. With the federal government abdicating responsibility to protect Americans from this threat, it is imperative that local governments increase their actions to halt the use of fossil fuels and transition to 100% clean renewable energy as soon as possible (this does not include nuclear, natural gas or biomass).

A 2015 report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that aggressively combating climate change would result in 12,000 fewer deaths in major U.S. cities due to extreme heat; up to $2.8 billion in avoided flooding costs; and $6.4 billion in avoided urban drainage costs by 2100. 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to come from urban areas.

Renewable energy represents an enormous economic opportunity for our nation and our nation’s cities to create jobs in an emerging industry, increase economic security, expand prosperity for local residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on water resources, save consumers money, and address environmental justice challenges in communities.

Join the US Conference on Mayors in Committing to 100% Clean Energy by 2030 – 35
Create a Master Plan with benchmark and Timelines

The City will develop a master plan with benchmarks and timelines on how to get to 100% clean energy for 2030 or 2035 – for electricity, buildings (heating / cooling), transportation. The plan will be developed with active participation by local residents, including communities most vulnerable to climate change. It will address issues such as environmental justice, a just transition for workers, and the need for energy democracy (community, worker and public ownership and democratic control). A climate change task force with broad representation from impacted communities, workers, scientists and climate activists will be created to guide the city’s efforts.

A significant expansion of renewable energy in both the transport and heating/cooling sectors is a strategic priority. It will likely require storing excess energy in the form of either heat or electricity in individual homes and businesses. Energy efficiency must be a top priority. After reducing energy use as much as possible, the transportation and heating/cooling systems must become electrified. an integrated approach across policy areas is needed, such as fiscal, energy, economic, as well as infrastructure policy.

Increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. This includes increasing distributed renewable energy generation within the City. Buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. Increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. Plant more trees. Protect the local food shed.

Offshore Wind has been very slow to develop in the US due to the unwillingness of state and federal officials to provide firm incentives, instead relying upon “market forces.” The first wind farm just came on line but at much higher prices than in Europe. The city should be willing to commit that part of its energy mix will be from offshore wind in order to assist in its development.

The city will conduct an assessment to establish its community energy consumption baselines. These provide greater understanding of the current state of energy use and start to prepare the data needed for formulating a 100% RE scenario and its specific pathways. https://go100re.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Building-Blocks_Executive-Summary.pdf The city will also conduct an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

The City by 2025 will have 100% clean energy for its own needs.

The city will avoid taxing renewable energy projects.

A large decrease in energy consumption can come from non-technological measures that support a cultural focus on energy savings that lead to behavior change. This can be done by promoting a culture of sustainability within the community, which is based not only on raising the level of awareness among citizens (e.g. through education and awareness campaigns) but also on increasing their level of engagement within their community.

The City will take action to halt the development of fossil fuel infrastructure (e.g., denial of any permits subject to local control). Direct law department to investigate how best to maximize local control. Will intervene in environmental review of projects in other communities that will impact climate change.

The City plan should also examine adaptation and resiliency efforts. This would include how to relocate buildings out of flood zones; how to increase the resiliency of infrastructure (power plants, sewage and water treatment plans) impacted by rising waters; protection of residents during heat waves, droughts, wildfire, etc; and emergency services during severe weather. It will explore establishing micro-grids.

The city should divest from fossil fuels, including its pension funds and its banking.

It will replace streetlights with LED bulbs.

Enact Building Codes for Net Zero Carbon Emissions, Mandate energy retrofits

Considerable amounts of energy and carbon emissions can be saved by aggressively retrofitting existing buildings. Energy retrofits of existing buildings should be required when they are sold or refinanced. Policies must establish strict standards for all new buildings and local governments should invest in retrofits of existing public building stock. New buildings should incorporate green roofs and solar / energy efficiency, including solar.

Upgrade building codes to promote carbon free.

Eliminate carbon footprint of all public buildings immediately and rapid phase in of residential buildings. Reducing carbon footprint will be part of code enforcement. Change boilers in public buildings (schools) away from natural gas to carbon free (solar, heat pumps, geothermal).

The city will actively work to ensure that the Green Jobs Green Homes law is implemented. This is an on bill utility financing system for energy retrofits. The law allows all residents, including tenants, to get a free energy audit. Any energy upgrades that have a rapid break even point are supposed to be paid for up front by the utility company, which recoups the investment through the utility bills (i.e., the energy savings).

By upgrading infrastructure, energy conservation can be achieved. Technologies that enhance energy efficiency and save energy through improvements in infrastructure and efficient technologies include cogeneration systems, district heating and cooling systems, decentralized electricity generation, smart grids and micro-grids.

The city must streamline the processing for renewable energy projects, starting with installation of solar units.

Improve Mass Transit

Increase funding and service for public transit, including buses. Take measures to encourage public transit (including development of transit aps). Congesting pricing in major urban areas.

The City will implement bike sharing programs. It will fund safe bike lanes.

The City will move to restrict the use of cars and trucks within the city (e.g., congestion pricing, no car zones, increased parking fees especially for singe passengers). Financial and other incentives for carpooling.

The City will develop “green streets” – natural and engineered methods for controlling storm water that would otherwise gather pollutants and rush from hard street surfaces into storm drains and out into local waterways.

Cities’ zoning laws should prioritize the development of housing around mass transit hubs and discourage suburban sprawl.

Energy Democracy

The City will enact Community Choice Aggregation to give local residents control over the local energy supplies. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a system adopted in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Illinois, which allows cities, and local governments to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts on a community-wide basis, but allowing consumers not wishing to participate to opt out The CCA would be used to promote renewable energy, including the development of community shared renewables.

It is important that ensure future community control and ownership of the energy system. Public power is another option to explore.

Encourage the development of community shared renewables. Establish requirements for a minimum percentage of participation by low-income households.

Electric Vehicles

Buy all electric vehicles for city fleet within five years.

The city will look to require all vehicles within the city to be carbon free within 10 to 15 years.

The city will assist with the build out of electric charging stations.

Solid Waste

Adopt zero waste goals (e.g., reduce waste to landfills by 95% by 2030, and then closing landfill). Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. It uses waste recovery systems that prevent waste, reduce and reuse materials, recycle and compost, recover energy in ways that don’t release carbon emissions, and affect “upstream” purchasing decisions to consume less and consume smartly. Zero waste focuses on restructuring production and distribution systems to reduce waste. Zero waste designs strive for reduced materials use, use of recycled materials, use of more benign materials, longer product lives, reparability, and ease of disassembly at end of life

Promote waste reduction. Increase financial incentives, support and education for recycling. Adopted volume-based garbage disposal systems. Initiate curbside pickup of food and yard waste / composting. Do methane recapture from landfills while working to shut them down and divert organic waste. Use local and more efficient processing centers.

The City will adopt sustainability in its procurement practices. It will establish targets and measure performance in meeting such goals. It will establish recycling requirements for building demolition / construction.


The City will adopt Sustainable Water Management practices. It will adopt an integrated, long-term strategy that mitigates any risks of long-term shift in water supply; pursue policy changes that promote water efficiency in buildings and landscaping; and, balance water importation, rainwater harvesting, groundwater management, recycled water use and onsite treatment options.

Sustainable Food Systems.

The food supply chain—which includes the production, processing, transport, packaging, cooling, heating, and decomposing in the landfill of foods—contributes about a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. (While the cited US numbers are often lower, we transfer much of our emissions to third world countries by growing meat there for US consumption.)

Create a local Food Policy Council to help develop local, sustainable food system. Make changes in local food purchases practices (e.g., schools, government institutions) to promote locally, sustainably grown food, increased plant vs. meat consumption. Require separate food waste bins in municipal waste collection for households and businesses. Assist in the protection of the local food shed (protect farmland from urban sprawl). Promote urban agriculture and green space; support community gardens and farmers markets. Create food resilience plans, including how to feed people in extreme weather emergencies.

Compiled by Green Education and Legal Fund – August 2017 – gelfny.org. Feel free to use. Many groups and cities contributed to the proposals. See for instance How to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy.