Mayors Leading the Way on Climate – 2018

The 2018 survey by the Alliance for a Sustainable Future—a joint effort of The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)—finds that mayors are a key force behind U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the growing effects of climate change.

In the absence of federal action and a comprehensive climate policy, mayors have stepped up in to fill the vacuum of climate leadership. Ninety-five percent of responding cities report they have experienced climate impacts in the last five years—from flooding, heavier snow and ice storms, wildfires, heat waves and drought, and 57 percent of cities responding are planning for new climate actions in the coming year. The high cost of climate impacts and their effects on cities and public health concerns are making low-carbon transitions an increasingly attractive option.

The survey of 158 cities nationwide is a window into the actions cities are taking or considering to limit emissions.

Key findings:

  • Cities are buying renewable energy: 65 percent of cities use renewable electricity for municipal operations; 27 cities now cover 30 percent or more of their operational needs with renewable; and eight cities cover all municipal electricity needs with renewable power. That’s a jump of 20 percent from the 2017 survey.
  • Green vehicle purchasing programs are popular: Nearly 60 percent of cities have programs, and 80 percent of new municipal vehicle purchases are made by cities with green purchasing policies.
  • Bike-share and scooter-share services are the most popular transportation options, with 22 percent of responding cities exploring bike sharing and 21 percent considering scooter sharing.
  • Cities are improving building efficiency: More than 70 percent of cities have energy efficiency polices for new and existing buildings, and more than half have policies or incentives in place for new commercial and residential buildings.
  • Cities are seeking business partnerships: 83 percent of cities are looking to the business community for support in advancing transportation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency solutions.
  • Climate policies and initiatives are catching on: Over the last 12 months, 60 percent of cities have launched or significantly expanded a climate initiative or policy.