Californian cities doing the most on climate action

Cities in California have the most marked activity across the United States when it comes to cutting emissions. San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco have reported the biggest emissions cuts since 2017, according to a new study. The total annual reduction equates to approximately 365 million metric tons of cuts.

A new report evaluating the efficacy of climate action plans and commitments of the 100 largest U.S. cities finds the leadership of these municipalities stands as an important counter to the federal government’s rollback of climate policies and departure from the Paris Agreement, writes a statement from the University of California.

Yet, despite genuine achievements by some, roughly two-thirds of cities are currently lagging in their targeted emissions levels, and, on average, all cities in the report need to cut their annual emissions by 64 percent by 2050 in order to reach their respective goals.

Of the top 100 most populous cities in the U.S. as of 2017, less than half (45) had climate action plans. Those plans include an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, the establishment of reduction targets and reduction strategies as well as monitoring efforts.

California contains the most activity with 11 Climate Action Plans (CAPs). Half of the top six cities that have already achieved the biggest emission cuts are in the state, including San Diego. Los Angeles experienced the largest decrease in emissions (about 47 percent), as of the time of analysis, followed by followed by San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Durham, Greensboro and San Diego.

Cities in California are also the only ones in the report with binding reduction targets, as the fifth largest economy has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2045. The state is also unique in that its cities have chief sustainability officers.

The findings, with synergies with University of California San Diego research, reveal that collectively, the total annual reduction in emissions that would be achieved by the 45 cities in the report (in their respective target years) would equate to approximately 365 million metric tons of cuts — about the same as removing 79 million passenger vehicles from the road, according to the statement.

Photo credit: matxutca (cindy), flickr/Creative Common

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