The US EPA has long been involved with climate and energy programs, including a site for kids now called Climate Change Kids Site, and the Energy Star program. Now, through the State and Local Climate and Energy Program, they are making a direct connection to Climate and Energy.
EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program provides technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support to state, local, and tribal governments. Specific assistance includes:
-Identifying and documenting cost-effective policies and initiatives that address climate change, including those that promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and related clean technologies.
-Measuring and evaluating the environmental, economic, and public health benefits of climate change and clean energy initiatives.
-Offering tools, guidance, and outreach support for assessing the options and benefits of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
-Fostering peer exchange opportunities for state and local officials to share information on best practices and lessons learned about innovative policies and programs.
As with many climate-related programs in the US, these efforts, important and well-intended though they are, are almost exclusively energy efficiency and conservation oriented, with little or no emphasis on what it takes to build resilient communities. Few of the state and local case studies even mention climate, and those that do use it as code for “energy efficiency.”
But addressing climate change will take much more than moving toward renewable energy and conservation.
On the other hand, the Resilient Cities 2010 initiative, which resulted in the Bonn Declaration
(PDF) adopted unanimously on May 30th, 2010 in Bonn German at the Mayors Adaptation Forum 2010, uses a commitment to globally coordinated local climate action to transform urban centers, which face daunting challenges above and beyond climate change.
The Making Cities Resilient: “My City Is Getting Ready”
kit actually focuses more on natural hazards and disasters than climate change. But the approach laid out in the kit, available through the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
, which goes far beyond most US efforts of addressing climate change primarily through energy efficiency, makes sense: by reducing and preparing for risks in general, and addressing disease and poverty at their roots, communities will inherently be more resilient and better able to adapt to climate change.
The kit quotes Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who in 2009 noted:
I have been traveling to many places around places around the world, witnessing for myself how local governments can contribute to.. global challenges. It is not only the national governments. It is not only the President or Prime Minister or Government Ministers who can address climate change, sustainable economic development, poverty and disease. We need support and participation of local leaders, mayors, governors, county chiefs.
And, we might add, teachers, students and ordinary citizens who are able to help society through informed-decision-making address the enormous challenges we face in building resilient communities from the bottom up.