A Decade in the Making: Mayors Renew Their Pledge to End Climate Change


Renewing a comittment made in February 2005, the nation’s mayors meet to discuss action on the local level to fight climate change, and their plans for the future. What might this mean for the future of solar?


Earlier this month, at the 82nd Annual United States Conference of Mayors, mayors from around the U.S. reaffirmed their committment to fighting climate change by, among other things, developing renewable energy sources. A revised U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement was signed by a number of the nation’s mayors. 

When the pledge was first launched a decade ago, it was a landmark, bipartisan effort from local leaders around the nation to take action to support the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. Committments were made to reduce carbon emissions from both government operations and the larger community. Over 1000 mayors signed the pledge.

Revisions to the document that was signed last week include an emphasis on local action and grassroots support. Also new is a call for action at the state and federal levels for bipartisan legislation to support the mayors and localities in their effort to move toward energy independence, create jobs, fight climatge change, eliminate waste, and protect the environment.

Present for the siging ceremony were U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Enivornmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy. They congratulated the Conference for their work and participated in an audience discussion.

But what exactly is the Climate Protection Agreement? And what exactly have the mayors in question been doing? USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, says that mayors have been leaders in the climate protection arena. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”

USCM Executive Director and CEO Tom Cochran said, “While Washington is talking about cutting carbon to protect our planet, mayors and their constituents are taking action across the board with millions of Americans actually doing something about it.”

The agreement includes a call to congress to “enact policies and programs” that take a multifacted approach to addressing the energy crisis. Among other things, the agreement calls for policies and programs that promote energy independence and reduce dependence on fossil fuels; policies and programs to accelerate energy efficiency and clean energy production, including solar; updating architecture and infrastructure to accomodate and mediate climate change; and reducing carbon pollution through current and new progams. 

In the agreement the mayors agreed to a two-part structure for addressing climate change: resilience and mitigation. This includes, among other things, the development of energy plans to address water, land use, waste, transportation, and energy concerns. The energy concerns will be addressed in part through development of renewable energy resources such as solar.

The plan also includes a plan for advocacy, through encouraging grass-roots efforts at the local level.

What can this mean for solar? Only that the nation is looking for practical solutions for energy independence and climate control. Solar is well poised to assist in both of these arenas.