Sub-National Governments Key to Climate Action

By Published On: October 2, 2009

Local and state authorities are likely to be responsible for achieving up to 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions sought under any international climate change agreement negotiated in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. “We at the local, state, and regional level are creating the action,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in an address to the Governor’s Global Climate Summit September 30. States and municipalities at the so-called “sub-national” level are moving ahead with their own greenhouse gas reduction efforts both in the U.S. and around the world, pursuing energy efficiency, making zoning changes that reduce driving, and setting their own renewable energy standards. Such changes are needed to meet about 80 percent of greenhouse gas reductions under any international treaty, said California Environmental Protection Agency secretary Linda Adams. In California, Schwarzenegger said that by 2020 the state will have 33 percent renewable energy feeding its grid under his recent executive order. Counting hydropower, the governor said that the true renewable energy level would be 45 percent. In Vancouver, a zoning change to shift areas formerly designated for commercial development to residential development in the downtown area has created a city center in which 62 percent of all trips are on foot, said British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell. Even sprawling Los Angeles is transforming into a city of what its mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called “elegant density.” In Toronto, the city is retrofitting un-insulated concrete high-rise apartment “blocks” by cladding them on the outside with insulated panels, said the city’s mayor David Miller. The work is creating thousands of jobs, he said.

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