Over the weekend, former President Bill Clinton addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors, urging them to go green for the sake of the planet and their economies. Clinton boasted that his Clinton Climate Initiative will pump $5 billion into building retrofits in over 40 U.S. cities.
Large companies are also investing in green cities. CBS just announced a private-public partnership to bring green solutions to Miami, Chicago and San Francisco.
In many ways, cities have been ahead of State and Federal environmental efforts for the last few years. In July 2007, 600 U.S. Mayors signed a Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. There have been numerous notable investments across North America in public transportation and green roofs (Chicago comes to mind) and buildings. To learn more about one of the greenest cities in North America, I would check out Vancouver’s Sustainability website.
North American cities still need to do a better job of bolstering their green manufacturing base. New York City, for example, has woefully ignored its green-tech sector, despite Mayor Bloomberg’s relatively ambitious climate overtures. Integrating solar or wind installations into existing energy grids often meets resistance from utility companies. And brownfield schemes, which provide incentives for businesses to clean up and convert old industrial sites, are often inconsistent and bureaucratic.
Nonetheless, since U.S. Federal legislation seems to go nowhere due to the Jim Inhofes of the world, it is good to know cities are taking their role seriously.
Stefan Deeran edits the green business blog MyGreenElement.com.