Cities and Businesses Lead Push for Climate Goals

May 12, 2016

As global temperatures break records year after year, the world is clamoring to adopt long-term climate goals. On Earth Day 2016, the United Nations saw a stunning response to The Paris Agreement, which aims to limit climate change to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement is binding when countries representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 55% of global population join. The 34 countries who committed to join in 2016 represent 49% of global emissions and the agreement could take effect in 2018 or sooner.

Across the U.S., 132 cities set their own GHG emissions reduction targets. In addition, a record 314 cities voluntarily reported their emissions to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) in 2015. Even while cities bear the burden of managing growing populations, their self-determined climate goals often reach beyond what states or the federal government mandate.

Atlanta, a city we highlighted in a previous article, is an example of the trend to set ambitious goals. The state of Georgia aims to lower emissions by 48% by 2030 — but the City of Atlanta is pressing to achieve an 80% reduction by 2040. To this end, they are encouraging retrofits, developing financing programs like Clean Energy Atlanta, growing the Beltline greenway project and maintaining their position as the number one city in the country for plug-in electric vehicles.

San Francisco is also making headlines. The City by the Bay aspires to surpass state goals by reaching 100% residential renewable energy, 50% of transportation outside of personal vehicles and zero waste to landfill by 2020. The demand for solar panel installations on buildings has soared.

A 2015 report found that cities driving the transition to renewable energy often have strong local governments, support from state-wide initiatives and strong partnerships between businesses and city organizations. Cities cannot achieve these ambitious climate goals on their own — the private sector is a critical partner in the race to develop and finance solutions.

Southwire knows the importance of partnerships for sustainable growth and innovation and is passionate about leading the industry with safe and efficient products. To read more about our participation in associations and research organizations, visit the page on Industry Partnerships in our sustainability report.