US Cities' Responses to Climate Change Heading in the Right Direction

A new report summarizes the results of the 2008 Local Government Operations Protocol (LGOP), jointly conducted by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The study is a collaboration between ICLEI, The Climate Registry, The California Climate Action Registry and the California Air Resources Board, and will serve as an official standard for local governments trying to get a handle on their carbon footprints.

LGOP launched in 2008 as a means for cities to use common tools for emissions measurements and analysis. This new report is the first assessment of LGOP's utility. So far municipal governments in 18 participating cities across the United States have agreed to monitor, disclose and decrease their city's greenhouse gas emissions. Most are focusing first on government buildings and operations, with the idea that the government can set a positive example for the public as a means of inspiring people to follow their city's lead in daily life.

The report also found that each of the 18 city participants recognizes climate change as an increasing risk, looking not only at mitigation but also at ways of adapting to changes that may be inevitable.

But city leaders are far from despairing! Fourteen of the 18 see the impending challenges of climate change as a business opportunity that will not only clean cities and create jobs, but strengthen communities as well. All of the 18 participating cities that used LGOP to monitor their emissions also took measures to reduce their footprints.

Participating cities' emissions reductions do not yet come close to the levels we need to seriously alter the course of climate change. But environmental and municipal leaders are regarding the LGOP as a monumental step in the right direction, simply because it has inspired its first group of city leaders to work together under a common rubric; a network that is only expected to strengthen and grow.