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North American Cities Make Strides to Reduce Emissions

North American Cities Make Strides to Reduce Emissions

Despite what deniers say, climate change is real and it is scary. According to a recently released analysis, St. Louis, Missouri could face heat waves every other year similar to the Chicago 1995 heat wave that killed hundreds of people. Low-lying countries, like the Polynesian island of Tuvalu, could be under water. Climate change increases the chances that the Colorado River reservoirs could be depleted by the middle of this century.

While the Senate wrangles over climate change legislation, many U.S. cities have climate change action plans in place and are working to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I recently came across articles about two U.S. cities which are implementing projects to help them meet their emissions reduction targets: Phoenix and Philadelphia.

America’s neighbor to the north is leaps and bounds ahead in reducing GHG emissions. Canada has a climate change action plan with emission reduction targets of 20 percent from 2006 levels by 2020, and 60 to 70 percent by 2050. Canada also set a goal of meeting 90 percent of its energy needs from “non-emitting sources.” The British Columbian city of Vancouver is one of the leading green cities in North America.

Vancouver: the leading green city in North America

Vancouver receives 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources. In 2003, Vancouver’s City Council approved the following targets for reducing its GHG emissions:

  • 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2010
  • 6 percent by 2012 (1990 as baseline)
  • 33 percent by 2020 (compared to 2007 baseline)
  • 80 percent by 2050 (1990 as baseline)
  • All new construction in Vancouver be GHG neutral by 2030

Vancouver has a transportation plan that encourages waking, cycling, and taking public transportation. The city has achieved a 44 percent increase in walking, a 180 percent increase in cycling, a 20 percent increase in public transportation use, and a 10 percent reduction in automobile trips since 1997.

Phoenix: Living Like It Matters

The city of Phoenix, Arizona has its own sustainability motto: Living Like It Matters. The desert city began to develop its Climate Action Plan in January 2008 to reduce its GHG emissions from city operations. In December 2008, the City Council approved a resolution adopting the goal to reduce GHG emission from city operations to five percent below 2005 levels by 2015. In addition, the city has the goal that by 2025, 15 percent of the energy used will be from renewable sources.

Philadelphia: Trying to become the greenest U.S. city

Mayor Michael Nutter wants Philadelphia to be the greenest city in America. The city of brotherly love is on its way: it has reduced its GHG emissions 10 percent from 1990 levels, with a goal of reducing emissions 20 percent by 2015. Philadelphia’s plan to achieve its goals consists of four targets:

  1. Lower city government energy consumption by 30 percent
  2. Reduce citywide building energy consumption by 10 percent
  3. Retrofit 15 percent of housing stock with insulation, air sealing and cool roofs
  4. Purchase and generate 20 percent of electricity used in Philadelphia from alternative energy sources

In June, Philadelphia was awarded $450,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar America Cities program to fund innovative solar projects. Twenty-five other cities received the Solar America City designation by the DOE. According to a press release, “Philadelphia, under its Solar America City Partnership, is working to identify and remove barriers to widespread solar development in the city and to help cost effectively meet its solar installation goal.”

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10 comments

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7:16PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for info.

7:16PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for info.

7:15PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for info.

7:15PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for info.

8:45AM PDT on Aug 7, 2009

Susan, I'm not sure if you're on the same subject. Are you talking about green cleaning, not global warming?
At any rate, there's nothing wrong with cleaning; I do it all the time, using inexpensive natural products like vinegar and baking soda. And yes, they are just as effective as all those cute little cans and bottles that are available at the supermarket. They don't poison the environment, and the do work.

7:14AM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

All of us had better wake up and smell the roses before we have no roses to smell and that is a fact.

If all of us really want to help Mother Earth NOW look up and read all about Shaklee Products they are wonderful and do not hurt Mother Earth at all look it up for yourself.

3:24PM PDT on Aug 4, 2009

I don't know for sure wether global warming is a big threat, little threat or no threat at all but I do know that I am a healthier person if I do some cleaning and basic maintinence to my house and others who visit are more comfortable when they visit. So, what is wrong with cleaning our house, mother Earth.?

2:41PM PDT on Aug 3, 2009

I agree with the other commenters. While these actions by the USA cities are certainly a welcomed step forward, it is not enough. We are in desperate need of swift meaningful action immediately.

7:46AM PDT on Aug 3, 2009

To re3duce the terrible damage that the human race is inflicting upon our planet is a matter of desperate urgency. Remedial action is needed today, not in some neulous future. Not only are many animal species in danger of extinction, but some peoples living in low-lying areas are already losing their homes and livelihood through rising sea-levels. However Big Business, whose profit depends upon releasing clouds of poison into the atmosphere, holds many governments in thrall, not the least in the U.S.A. Does anyone wonder that there are those who are prepared to resort to violent means of opposing such wickedness? Clean up the world now, not tomorrow.

6:39AM PDT on Aug 3, 2009

Well, it's true that every little bit counts, but when you write "In December 2008, the City Council approved a resolution adopting the goal to reduce GHG emission from city operations to five percent below 2005 levels by 2015. In addition, the city has the goal that by 2025, 15 percent of the energy used will be from renewable sources." It sounds almost like a joke.
It's WAY too little to have much impact. Why such small figures ? "five percent below 2005 levels by 2015". It amounts to nothing. The levels of 2005 are already way way too high, so what it 5% below that going to have as an effect ?
It just looks like a tiny drop in the ocean, a small gesture to "appease" the Greens etc. A slap in the face of the environment, really.

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