In America, most local leaders don’t run for city council, county commissioner, or mayor solely to solve climate change. But its challenges are now present in our communities — along with opportunities to solve them.
Despite lingering disagreement about the causes of climate change, its impacts have reached cities and towns across America. That is why thousands of local leaders have already started working to cut energy use, use more renewables, improve transportation systems, reduce waste, and prepare their communities.
Moving Forward: A Guide to Building Momentum on Climate Solutions in Your Community is for civic leaders in smaller and mid-size communities that want to lead on climate and sustainability but may lack full-time sustainability staff. The guide is intended to provide local leaders with these resources, including guidance on how to best engage residents using clear, positive, inclusive and relevant messages.
Through local climate and sustainability action, cities and towns are creating jobs, adding transportation options, and spurring green energy investments that cut utility bills, provide energy choices, and increase livability. These actions give healthy and resilient communities a competitive edge in attracting businesses, residents, and workers.
As climate change impacts are felt in every city and town, leadership begins by making a statement, advancing solutions, and strengthening the community. The keys to success are executive leadership, an informed and motivated staff, consistent support, and participation from community leaders and institutions.
Most importantly, climate-centric change starts with alliances between leaders in towns and counties across regions. The power of coordinated action to bolster local solutions, through energy and transit planning, purchasing and contracting agreements, and land use practices, will build momentum and provide tangible solutions across many more communities.
About the Author: Cooper Martin is the program director of the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities.