By Jessica Richmond
“A majority of cities (53%) – 149 of the 282 cities – have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the result of a mayoral pledge and/or formal city council action.”
Solar and conservation measures ranked highly by mayors, wind turbines ranked least promising
April 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently have focused efforts on creating a plan to increase energy efficiency, while reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) and carbon emissions. The nonpartisan organization consists of mayors from 1,398 cities with populations of 30,000 or more.
Under the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, signers have pledged to try and limit their cities carbon emissions, reduce GHG emissions, along with pushing local state and federal actors to “do their part” in order to help reduce environmental air pollution. Now a new report reveals data on actions pursued in cities across America to reach these goals.
This report is the third in a series, the first survey report, Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities, was released January 2014, and the second report, Successful City Initiatives with Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Funding, was released in late February 2014. While the Conference report mainly focuses on mayoral climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, it excludes related information on mayoral energy initiatives that were discussed in previous survey reports.
Our own East County Santee City Mayor Randy Voepel along with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, were among the 54 California Mayors involved with this Conference report.
While the report claims, “More than seven in ten cities (71%) with formal mayoral/city council actions calling for reductions in city carbon emissions say their actions have resulted in quantifiable GHG reductions,” it does not actual state the parameters used for quantifying the results. In other words, how do the mayors and city councils actually know that they have reduced GHG emissions?
The essential mechanism for statistical analysis in this survey has been a two-fold approach to analyze mayoral pledges/city council actions with the status of inventory- also known as ‘self-reporting’. Which means that the mayors and local city councils surveyed were reporting on themselves and their own findings.
Of the mayors surveyed, a majority (54%) turned to their local residents first and foremost in order to engage in dialogue and for creating action plans in efforts to reduce GHG and carbon emissions. 82% of cities agree that LED/energy efficient lighting was “the most promising technology for reducing energy use and carbon emissions,” while solar electricity generation comes in at a close second place of 54%. Wind turbines ranked last, named by only 7% of mayors.
The Conference report also states that “Mayors rank utilities (71%) as their top partner in advancing new technologies, followed by state governments (49%) and the private sector (41%).”
Such statistics may be concerning to citizens in East County’s back country who have had to deal with massive large-scale wind and solar projects purported as clean and efficient alternative energy solutions by utility companies and supported by local and state governments. Utilities and officials have too often downplayed harm to the environment, wildlife, public health and safety. Accidents at two local projects have heightened such concerns, including a brush fire started by an exploding wind turbine in Campo and a multi-ton blade dropped on a public trail in Ocotillo’s wind project on public land.
Locally, opponents of industrial-scale energy projects want distributed generation such as rooftop solar to be considered as alternatives—an issue the report did not address.
Not surprisingly, 84% of mayors surveyed agree that budget/funding constraints pose the greatest obstacle in advancing energy efficiency and conservation efforts.
By engaging in open constructive dialogue about the best possible energy practices and activities, the Mayors Conference report seeks to motivate all local, state, and federal governing bodies to work together to continue to lower GHG and carbon emissions.