The urgency of climate change demands a proactive response—not just driven by major federal initiatives such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but also delivered through plans and actions in cities. As the country’s primary economic and population centers, cities generate most greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and absorb most climate-related costs, from floods to fires to droughts. To reduce these costs and amplify benefits, cities need to reduce emissions—or decarbonize—their built environment. Collectively, the transportation, buildings, and electricity sectors produce nearly two-thirds of national GHG emissions. Achieving those reductions, though, will require more than wishful thinking or simply relying on new federal rules and funding. Local planners and practitioners need to coordinate on new infrastructure investments.
On Tuesday, September 27, Brookings Metro hosted an event to examine how city leaders can accelerate climate planning and action in the current era of historic federal investment. The event built off the Brookings Metro report, “Not according to plan: Exploring gaps in city climate planning and the need for regional action,” which analyzes the implementation potential of 50 different city climate plans. In addition to a presentation of the report’s major findings, the event featured remarks from federal leaders on challenges and opportunities to advance climate action across the country, and a panel of local leaders discussed needs around goal setting, strategy execution, funding projects, and expanding equity.