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Expand chart
Reproduced from a Brookings Institution report; Chart: Axios Visuals

A just-published Brookings Institution analysis of U.S. cities' pledges to cut carbon emissions reveals very mixed results.

Why it matters: The potential — and limits — of city and state initiatives have gotten more attention amid President Trump's scuttling of Obama-era national policies.

The big picture: It finds "laudable aspirations, notable GHG reductions in some cases, and less auspicious outcomes in most other cities."

The state of play: The authors undertook the difficult task of comparing cities' emissions-cutting vows and progress toward meeting them.

  • Plans have varying baseline years, targets and so forth, and the analysis also has to grapple with what might happen in the absence of the plans.
  • There's also a time-lag in getting information, but that map above is close to the current state of play, Brookings analyst Mark Muro said.

Where it stands: Among the 100 most populous U.S. cities, only 45 have both emissions-cutting targets and a detailed emissions tally — or "inventory" — to gauge them against.

  • Seventeen of those 45 have rolled out new or upgraded plans since Trump took office.
  • These cities' pledges often align with the goal of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050.
  • That's aggressive but falls short of what's needed globally to hold warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, the study notes.
  • Another 22 of these 100 cities have vowed emissions cuts but lack specific targets or completed inventories.

By the numbers: If the 45 cities with plans and baseline data successfully follow through, it would cut emissions by an estimated 365 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually by 2050.

  • That's the equivalent of taking 79 million passenger vehicles off the roads, the report states.
  • Viewed another way, that "translates to roughly 6% of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2017," it finds.
  • That's "not insignificant," but also far from the net-zero by 2050 levels consistent with the very ambitious 1.5°C goal.

Threat level: Lots of cities are falling behind on their pledges.

  • Of 32 cities that conducted new inventories since 2010, 26 have cut emissions compared to baseline levels, led by L.A.'s 47% cut below 1990 levels. Six have seen increases, led by Tucson, Arizona's growth.
  • "Overall, about two-thirds of cities are currently lagging their targeted emission levels." On average, cities analyzed would need to cut emissions by 64% by 2050 to meet their goals.

What's next: The report offers ways to bolster and expand city initiatives.Two examples: More philanthropic help for small and midsized cities; and more big-city efforts to decarbonize power generated outside their borders by working with surrounding communities, regional governments and other stakeholders.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Scoop: Amazon Fresh eyes multiple Twin Cities locations

An Amazon Fresh store in California. Photo: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Amazon is planning a big entry into the Twin Cities grocery market beyond just the Burnsville store we told you about on Tuesday.

What's happening: Amazon also wants to bring checkout-free Fresh stores to Eagan Town Centre and a former JCPenney store in Coon Rapids' Riverdale Village, Nick confirmed with his sources.

The rebellion against Silicon Valley (the place)

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Silicon Valley may be a "state of mind," but it's also very much a real enclave in Northern California. Now, a growing faction of the tech industry is boycotting it.

Why it matters: The Bay Area is facing for the first time the prospect of losing its crown as the top destination for tech workers and startups — which could have an economic impact on the region and force it to reckon with its local issues.

28 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.