Communities Taking Center Stage Today at COP21

This week, 30,000 diplomats and delegates from more than 190 countries gathered in Paris with a common goal: negotiating a global agreement to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The 150 world leaders in attendance on Monday constituted the largest gathering of heads of state under one roof in a single day. Elsewhere in Paris today, a different kind of gathering is taking place, this one at City Hall.

The Climate Summit for Local Leaders—hosted by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change—is the largest-ever convening of mayors, governors, and local leaders focused on fighting climate change. Here at RMI, we know the importance of communities in building a clean energy future. Earlier this week we released a guide to help local leaders take energy action and we applaud the Paris gathering of community-level climate leaders.

Communities Can Remove Gigatons of Carbon

While negotiators are, well, negotiating, local government leaders will be showcasing the work they are already doing to address climate change, particularly under the Compact of Mayors. Launched in 2014, the Compact of Mayors is made up of over 2,000 cities, including more than 200 cities with voluntary greenhouse gas reduction targets. These cities are already on their way to collectively reduce their emissions by 454 megatons by 2020.

Cities and communities are already leading the way on combating climate change and are poised to act on even larger ambitions. Recent research suggests that cities have the potential to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 8 gigatons by 2050—on top of current national targets—equivalent to cutting global coal use by more than half.

The Climate Summit for Local Leaders is an exciting moment for cities and communities to demonstrate the significant impact that local action is having on global climate change and how this impact can be amplified when communities collaborate.

Guidance and Tools for Community Energy Action

Here at RMI, we learned the importance of local leadership in building a clean energy future first-hand. Our work with communities—including Fort Collins, CO, Palo Alto, CA, Duluth, MN, Denver, CO, and Austin, TX—demonstrates that local communities can be beacons of change and can create replicable models for success.

Based on key insights from leading communities across the country, RMI created the recently-released Community Energy Resource Guide to assist leaders and practitioners in U.S. communities with a desire to transform their energy use. The resource guide is intended to be a reference tool for ongoing community-level energy work, and to serve as a roadmap and methodology to help communities create comprehensive energy action plans—communities like those whose leaders are meeting in Paris today.

The Community Energy Resource Guide outlines a plan or process for success that may be adapted to communities of any size and offers practical guidance for local decision makers, practitioners, and leaders. It is packed with examples of innovative initiatives and strategies; tools and resources for planning, analyzing, selecting, and evaluating different approaches; and new ideas to spur uptake by the private sector. In addition, the resource guide walks communities through:

  • Developing a transparent and collaborative planning process that will work best for your community
  • Securing dedicated leadership and suggestions for ensuring that the leadership team is effective
  • Suggestions for collecting data and doing the right amount of analysis, at the right time, and with the right people
  • Selecting tactics and strategies from leading examples and innovative ideas in building efficiency, electricity, transportation, and industry—with many opportunities for engaging with the private sector

This new resource guide will assist community leaders with creating a comprehensive energy strategy, based in large part on what is working in leading communities. To learn more, please download your copy of the Community Energy Resource Guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.