A series by Elizabeth Willmott.

Cities act on climate: the power of hope

Today in Portland, five west coast mayors announced aggressive commitments to aggressive action on both climate change and equity. The announcement comes directly after a Paris gathering of international mayors talking climate change; it also closely follows the groundbreaking climate resolutions passed last month in Portland. Here's the story of how those resolutions came to be.

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Cities on the move: the Road Through Paris

Cities (or "sub-nationals," in international climate negotiations-speak) are at the vanguard of where real climate solutions are being implemented around the world. That will remain true in the years ahead, no matter how ambitious an agreement emerges from the COP21 climate talks in Paris this month--local and state governments will be shouldering much of the load of creative carbon emissions reduction, of energy efficiency improvements, and of access to renewable energy.

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The Path to Urban Carbon Reduction

The international climate talks are a moment in time for forward-looking urban leaders to demonstrate the collective political will they have amassed for bold climate action, and to show how far they have already come in reducing carbon emissions.

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Building Diverse Coalitions beyond Climate

Urban leaders are increasingly aligning their carbon reduction and clean energy agendas with other important community priorities—such as air quality, transportation, social equity, economic development, and climate change resilience. In doing so, they forge stronger and more diverse coalitions for climate action.  

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Partnering for Powerful Action

Leading local governments do not travel alone on the road of climate action-- they partner with other jurisdictions and networks to get deeper and faster results. These collaborations have turned low-carbon city efforts into a movement.

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Tools of the Trade

Urban leaders are looking beyond their typical toolbox of policies, programs, and partnerships, and experimenting with new approaches to achieve carbon reduction through cleaner energy supply, building energy efficiency, and low-carbon transportation.

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Carbon Reduction Know-How

In the early days of climate action, urban plans to reduce carbon frequently suffered from the laundry list syndrome: cataloguing potential strategies without any evidence of how they would meet long-term goals. Since then, cities and counties have become more sophisticated about cutting carbon, and are developing clean energy transition plans to do it.

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Cities Setting the Pace

Leading urban governments have set aggressive goals such as carbon neutrality and 80% reduction by 2050, and others have committed to sourcing 100% of their energy with renewables. These are not empty pledges, but achievable goals that local officials are already implementing.

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