Tuesday night, the fight against climate change was compared to the space race, highlighting the spirit of innovation and determination that is required to secure a healthy future for generations to come. During Tuesday’s state of the Union Address, President Obama continued to build off of the momentum behind the recent COP21. The conference in Paris was a monumental step in the global fight to combat climate change, but anyone who knows anything about it, knows that it however monumental it was, it’s still just one of many steps the world needs to take in order keep the earth’s temperature from rising two degrees Celsius.
Before the president’s address on Tuesday, ICMA posted an article outlining how COP21 recognized the role of local governments in strengthening resilience to climate change. With cities producing the majority of greenhouse gases and simultaneously experiencing the largest impacts of climate change, there is a tremendous opportunity for local governments to contribute to the race to cut emissions and mitigate the challenges facing their residents today.
In many ways, cities and local governments have been showcasing their ability to come up with innovative solutions for years and their actions have informed national policies. Revamping flood mitigation measures to address increased rainfall and storm surges, developing new ways to preserve and rebuild their coastlines, and successfully engaging local communities participate in meeting the challenges around climate change are only a few of the lessons the rest of the world can learn from local governments as it answers the call of the Paris Conference.
COP21 set the stage for the world players to act. Local governments should look to this as an opportunity to showcase their successes and engage a world audience that is suddenly listening much more closely for innovative solutions to win the race against climate change.