Survey finds cities are pushing ahead with climate change efforts

For Immediate Release
Monday, September 18, 2017

Alec Gerlach, 703-516-0621,
Sara Durr, 202-215-1811,

Cities Push Ahead with Climate Change Efforts

Nationwide Survey Finds Many U.S. Cities Leveraging Purchasing Power, Business Relationships to Drive Climate and Energy Solutions

NEW YORK, NY – As weather patterns continue to grow more erratic and powerful, as seen with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the recent wildfires in Los Angeles, mayors across the country are taking action to address these real climate change threats by committing to reduce carbon emissions. A nationwide survey released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors(USCM) and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) as part of their partnership—the Alliance for a Sustainable Future—found that nearly two-thirds of the responding cities are procuring green vehicles, purchasing renewable electricity and requiring efficient government buildings. The Alliance also released today a case study of six cities, which provides a more detailed description that illustrates the breadth of carbon reduction programs.

The survey demonstrates that cities are pushing ahead with their efforts to implement climate programs to expedite carbon reduction initiatives to meet aggressive goals, and that they are eager to partner with business and other communities to do it. Eighty-five percent of cities are interested in or already partnering with the business community to advance climate solutions in the areas of electricity, buildings, and transportation.

But the survey also shows that there is much work to be done and the potential for growth in these programs is significant.

The survey included the responses of 102 cities from 35 states.  They represent a broad geography and range in size from 21,000 (Pleasantville, NJ) to 8.5 million (New York City).  Together, the cities surveyed represent nearly 42 million Americans.

Key findings include:

  • 64 percent of cities responding reported that they were generating or purchasing renewable electricity to power city buildings or other city operations. Additionally, 16 percent of cities source more than 40 percent of their electricity from renewables.
  • Of 99 cities responding, 63 indicated they already purchase green vehicles for their fleet and an additional 23 cities are actively exploring the possibility. And, 63 percent of cities offer public charging for electric vehicles.
  • 69 percent of responding cities purchase hybrid passenger vehicles; 51 percent purchase electric passenger cars; and another 51 percent purchase natural gas heavy duty vehicles.
  • Cities are taking action to promote energy efficient municipal buildings. 67 percent of cities responding have efficiency policies in place for new buildings, while 64 percent have policies in place for existing buildings. And, more than two-thirds of cities are employing energy audits to track consumption.
  • The purchasing power of responding cities alone is significant as they spend more than $1.4 billion on total electricity and procure more than 11,500 total vehicles every year—showing that they have the potential to leverage changes in the marketplace.

The survey provides a baseline for understanding city efforts to develop climate solutions and create sustainable communities, and helps identify innovative practices, emerging trends and areas for assistance.  Today’s final survey release follows the prior release of preliminary results in June.

See the full survey.

“With the severe hurricanes and wildfires on the rise, we are in a race against time to address climate change,” said Chair of the Alliance Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales.  “Without the federal government’s partnership, cities and the business community will now have to bear the responsibility to reduce carbon and the effects of climate change.  It is critical that we expedite renewable technology deployment and adopt policies to meet aggressive carbon reduction goals.”

“These results show a growing momentum in cities to develop emission reducing programs and to strike new partnerships with other governments and the private sector,” said Vice-Chair of the Alliance Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Now is the time to work together at the state and local level to buy green vehicles, retrofit our buildings, purchase renewable electricity and develop more renewable energy projects.”

“The nation’s mayors are assuming a national and global leadership role to respond to climate change. We have no choice but to act now,” said CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Tom Cochran. “The time for talking is over. Through our ongoing work, we will continue to track the progress cities make in implementing carbon reduction programs and meeting aggressive renewable energy goals.”

“This confirms that incredible strides are made when mayors and business leaders collaborate. But, we’ve learned too that cities want to do more, and we will be working to encourage city-business partnerships for the great number of cities interested in working with the business community,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe.


The Alliance for a Sustainable Future will discuss the survey results and how cities are partnering with the business community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions Tuesday, September 19, in New York at Climate Week NYC. Case studies will also highlight partnerships between cities and the business that are already accelerating momentum toward sustainable, low-carbon communities. Details are below.

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 9:30- 11:15 a.m.

Place: NYU Wagner, 295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor, New York, NY

Speakers will include: Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, AECOM Global Director of Resilience Josh Sawislak, NYU Wagner Dean Sherry Glied, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions President Bob Perciasepe.


About the Alliance for a Sustainable Future: The Alliance for a Sustainable Future was formed by USCM and C2ES in 2016 with the shared goals of keeping city officials and business leaders informed and empowered to design and implement local plans for low-carbon, sustainable communities.

About The U.S. Conference of Mayors: The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Learn more at

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at