Who is leading the way in decreased emissions? A recent report shows California is top of the list in America

Who is leading the way in decreased emissions? A recent report shows California is top of the list in America Who is leading the way in decreased emissions? A recent report shows California is top of the list in America

October 23, 20202 min read

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. 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% 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.

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.

“These actions city by city could ad d up to a powerful approach to climate mitigation,” said David Victor, co-author of the report and professor of international relations at the UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. “Cities make great laboratories for combating climate change because some of the hardest tasks in cutting emissions involve activities such as urban planning and rebuilding transportation infrastructures—areas where cities are on the front lines. What’s needed is for these leaders, like San Diego, to make their successes more visible—so that more cities here and abroad follow.”

The report is available for reading and identifies the top performing cities in America as well as those struggling to meet targeted levels.

If you are a journalist covering climate change and how America’s cities are can play a part in impacting emissions – then let us help.

David Victor is a professor of international relations at UC San Diego who co-chairs the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate and UC San Diego’s Deep Decarbonization Initiative. He can speak to reporters about this report and more broadly about what local, national and international efforts need to made to decarbonize energy sources - simply click on the icon below to arrange an interview.

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  • David Victor
    David Victor Professor of International Relations; Co-director, Laboratory on International Law and Regulation

    David Victor's research focuses on highly regulated industries and how regulation affects the operation of major energy markets.

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