Apr 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Cities up the ante on their climate pledges

Animated illustration of smog disappearing from above a city skyline

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cities and states continue to push forward on their climate goals, raising their level of ambition as the White House prepares to host a global climate summit this week.

Why it matters: Cities account for a significant share of emissions and worked to reduce them despite the Trump-era federal pullback. City leaders also must prepare for climate impacts such as the sea-level rise and more intense heat waves.

Driving the news: On Friday, 96 more cities committed to halving their emissions by 50% by 2030, while aiming toward net zero by 2050, per C40 Cities, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.

This brings the total to 125 mayors from 31 countries, including the leaders of Bangkok, Mumbai, Rabat and Miami Beach.

By the numbers: Antha N. Williams, head of the environment program for Bloomberg Philanthropies, told Axios that local action helps provide the U.S. with gravitas on climate despite federal inaction.

  • "U.S. credibility on climate rests with the fact that local leaders have been delivering on climate action," she said.

Yes, but: While any city emissions cuts are helpful, they can only partially address some of the largest emissions sources nationally and internationally, such as transportation and electricity.

  • There are also questions about how much emissions reductions at the local level would have happened anyway with more cost-competitive renewables and other developments, absent the work of C40 and other initiatives.
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