Panel Paper: Local Governments and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Through the Lens of Climate Mayors

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 211 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Laura Helmke-Long, Indiana University; School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Cities are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and consume two-thirds of the world’s energy. Cities are also on the front lines of responding to the effects climate change will have on communities, particularly those that could damage infrastructure, disrupt provision of services, and harm human health. Thus, cities are vital players in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the harm climate change may cause. This research examines cities’ mitigation and adaption efforts relating to the effects of climate change by focusing on the 392 U.S. cities that have committed to reducing their carbon emissions through publicly made commitments in a letter supporting the Paris Climate Agreement through the Climate Mayors initiative. After conducting data gathering, I will assess cities’ engagement by coding their efforts, like whether they have a climate action plan, a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, an office focusing on reducing emissions, or community outreach, along with other characteristics of the cities. In this research, I am asking if making this stated commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement through the Climate Mayors initiative translates into action regarding climate change. This research is important because prior research has shown that cities vary in their levels of action towards reducing their greenhouse gas emissions even after making commitments to climate initiatives. This research is also important because in the absence of federal action in the United States, cities and other engaged participants are responsible for moving the country forward in meeting global climate goals.