Washington, D.C. — Today, as hundreds of mayors convene in Dallas, Texas, for the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, the Center for American Progress released recommendations for how cities can help states achieve the proposed EPA carbon-pollution standards and prevent the worst effects of climate change.
“Mayors are already fighting the impact and costs of extreme weather caused by climate change. The actions they take to protect their cities and people can and should help states meet Clean Power Plan pollution limits,” said Danielle Baussan, Managing Director of Energy Policy at CAP. “Developing low-carbon energy policies underscores cities’ importance to critical national goals: reduced carbon pollution, increased consumer savings, and a healthier future for everyone.”
Climate change will play a prominent role on the meeting’s agenda because these mayors understand that the nation’s cities and towns are the front line of the response to climate change. This meeting comes on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s, or EPA’s, recently unveiled Clean Power Plan, which proposes carbon-pollution limits for the nation’s existing fleet of currently unregulated power plants. What some observers may not appreciate is that mayors can contribute to—and benefit from—plans to cut dangerous carbon pollution.
The EPA proposal is results oriented and highly flexible. It proposes to set a target for each state based on that state’s potential to reduce carbon pollution. This means that states can tailor their federal carbon-pollution plans to align with state priorities. It also means that everything a city does to cut pollution will help its state meet the target.
Cities have every reason to want to cut pollution. First, reducing carbon pollution will deliver air quality benefits that will help prevent asthma attacks and other illnesses. The EPA estimates that its proposal will avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children. Second, cutting carbon pollution will help minimize the impact of climate change and associated extreme weather events. After an extreme weather event, mayors and their cities are directly accountable for fixing physical damage, mitigating job losses, and building more weather-resilient structures. These extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent or more intense in the coming years due to human-induced climate change, according to the EPA. Between 2011 and 2013, the United States experienced more than $208 billion in damage from the most severe weather events alone. Reducing the impact of these extreme weather events is in the best interest of cities and their residents.
Cities have the opportunity to adopt policies that help states achieve the proposed EPA carbon-pollution standards and prevent the worst effects of climate change. The analysis released today outlines five example policies, including:
Reduce the carbon impact of municipal utilities
Update building energy codes
Promote distributed generation of renewable energy
Consider tax credits and rebates for renewable energy