Climate Cities

In the summer of 2017, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, making us the only nation in the world not to join this important global agreement. While the president is stepping back, mayors across the country are stepping up to reduce our climate impact with or without federal leadership. With ELPC’s Climate Cities initiative, we are engaging with these local municipalities to support the transition to clean energy and efficiency.

The science is clear: climate change poses grave threats to human life. The American people have become increasingly aware of this multifaceted challenge, as the impacts reach U.S. shores and inland to the Midwest. Extreme weather and disasters like hurricanes, heat waves, fires, and floods – exacerbated by climate change – threaten lives, damage property, and raise public safety costs. Climate action is a fiscally responsible mayoral priority.

Many cities already see the benefits of advancing clean technology. Local energy production keeps renewable energy dollars in our communities, so residents aren’t paying to import electricity generated by finite resources like coal, gas, and uranium. Clean electric vehicles and buses reduce fuel and maintenance costs, while avoiding pollution. Improving energy efficiency in city buildings makes the best use of our resources and taxpayer money. Updating all of this local infrastructure creates installation jobs, attracts investment, and reduces carbon emissions.

3 Ways Cities Can Commit to Climate Actions

  1. Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Municipal Electricity Needs by 2022
    The Midwest has abundant wind power and solar energy. Energy storage capacity is accelerating as prices fall while technologies improve. Midwest climate cities can achieve 100 percent renewable energy by using locally produced solar energy plus storage, purchasing clean renewable energy from third parties, and securing renewable energy credits from local solar and wind projects. To meet their city’s energy goals, Madison, Wisconsin supports local wind energy production, with approximately 10,000 residential customers on green energy already.
  1. Clean Up Municipal Fleets
    Our nation’s transportation sector now produces the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.  Any new purchases for city fleets should be electric vehicles (EV) or other zero-emission vehicles (with exception to emergency vehicles). One of the most meaningful ways climate cities can showcase green leadership is through buying EVs, creating demand to drive the EV market forward while reducing pollution. Columbus, Ohio has been a front-runner in the nation for its municipal fleets, using anti-idling technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 100 electric vehicles, with a pledge to add another 200 by 2020.
  1. Rapidly Improve Municipal Building Energy Efficiency
    Energy used to heat, cool, and operate buildings and other stationary facilities represents one-half to three-quarters of community-level greenhouse gas emissions. Smart energy efficiency products, technologies and controls are available. The time has never been better for climate cities to reduce their energy bills and cut pollution through energy efficiency improvements. Grand Rapids, Michigan is working on developing a roadmap toward a zero net carbon building sector by 2050. They are part of Michigan’s Battle of the Buildings, encouraging all commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings towards energy-efficiency through friendly competition.

Midwest Climate Action Cities:

Ann Arbor, MI  – Set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025 and 90% by 2050, with low-interest funding for property owners & renters to assess building efficiency and make upgrades.

Grand Rapids, MI – Committed to operating all municipal buildings with 100% renewable electricity by 2025 and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 25% by 2021

Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN – The twin cities are recognized as Solar America Cities, funding training for city officials to facilitate solar project approval.

Cincinnati, Ohio – Building efficiency improvements at municipal facilities have saved roughly 150,000 metric tons of CO2 between 2006 and 2015.

Bloomington, Indiana – Brand new 2018 sustainability plan promises more walkability, more local food, and significant reductions in water consumption & waste.

ELPC Fact Sheets

Climate Cities Overview – Key strategies in 12 cities across the region

Renewable Energy for Municipal Facilities

Electric Vehicles for Climate Cities Fleets

Energy Efficiency for Municipal Facilities


Paris Climate Agreement (2015)

Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Program – 107 Cities Committed to 100% renewable energy

Community Power Map – Institute for Self-Reliance (2019)

Americans are increasingly alarmed about global warming (2019) – Yale Climate Program


For more information on our cities climate action campaign, contact us at 

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