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What Climate Change Looks Like in Your Town

by Don Knapp Jun 23, 2009

climate change impacts map

Image source:

The news from the White House report about climate change impacts may be more than a week old, but I can’t stop digging into the fascinating – and disturbing – details. Less colorful fall foliage in the Northeast, and 30 summer days over 100 degrees. Aquatic dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay. Fewer artichokes, olives, and walnuts grown in California. Stifling heat waves in the Midwest, then droughts, then floods.

The impacts range from quirky to panicky, and everybody who loves this country and our way of life should take a look at how things may change in their town or city, and understand why so much is riding on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act (aka Waxman-Markey). Climate change is here now, and local governments are on the front lines of dealing with it, which means they need a plan for climate adaptation.

Click below for the specifics in your region, or click on the map above for the full image. Then chat with your colleagues about this report; you couldn’t ask for a better conversation starter.

Climate change impacts in the United States, by region:

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Jun 22, 2009

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Cramming to Meet the EECBG Application Deadline? Call Our Hotline

by Don Knapp Jun 22, 2009

Warning sign with question mark

Thursday's the big day for local governments. June 25 is the deadline to submit applications to the Department of Energy (DOE) for economic recovery funding through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.

How's that going for your city, by the way?

If you're a local government staff member scrambling to finish your application, ICLEI's got your back. Just call our Application Assistance Line on Wednesday, June 24, between 2 and 4 p.m. Eastern. We'll field any last-minute questions you have on the application, and share the latest guidance we've gotten from DOE.

To reach the hotline and speak with an ICLEI expert:

  • Dial (218) 862-1115 and enter conference ID 354979, then hit #.
  • Can't wait till Wednesday? Submit questions anytime by e-mailing
  • Remember, you can find a wealth of resources, including the ICLEI Guide to Preparing Your EECBG Application, at
  • Our Application Assistance Line is free to all ICLEI members.
  • Good luck meeting the deadline!
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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Jun 17, 2009

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U.S. Mayors: Infrastructure Key to Climate Fight

by Don Knapp Jun 17, 2009

Orange Traffic Light and Barricades

The results of Monday's survey of 140 U.S. mayors aren't too surprising. Cities' infrastructure budgets have taken a hit, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Investing in infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, as we all know, is a key to climate mitigation, and there are no shortage of opportunities.

The question now is, How will stimulus funds change this dilemma, once mayors and other local elected officials have cash in hand? Can targeted municipal spending on infrastructure and energy efficiency projects, despite cash-strapped general funds, make a real dent in overall emissions? That's a wait-and-see question.

Yet ever since local governments began the scramble to apply for their allocated funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed, ICLEI's mantra, echoing the Department of Energy's, has been simple: Use the funds in a way that maximizes long-term benefits. Don't just fill potholes or retrofit individual buildings. Think long-term, think sustainably. Fund a vision to get people out of their cars and taking public transit to work. Fund a new city department that institutionalizes municipal energy efficiency work.

At ICLEI we've been eager to help spread these ideas and help local governments incorporate them into their strategies to spend ARRA funds. Right now we need a really big bullhorn.

But back to infrastructure, in particular: If you didn't click above to read the survey, produced by Siemens in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, here is a cut-and-paste of the first paragraph and its bullet points outlining the opportunities with infrastructure:


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A Global Interest in Local Renewables

by Don Knapp Jun 17, 2009

House With Roof Solar Panels

A key topic at the ICLEI World Congress 2009, writes Alex Aylett on WorldChanging, is how cities can successfully integrate energy supply policies--typically a regional or national planning issue--into their local climate mitigation efforts. Helping community members acquire solar systems and initiate energy efficiency upgrades is very much a local government priority.

Aylett interviews Emani Kumar, executive director of ICLEI's operations in South Asia, to get a sense of the progress and challenges to bring local renewables to Indian cities.

In the United States, ICLEI member local governments have shown remarkable innovation around these efforts. Berkeley, Palm Desert, and Sonoma County California, along with Babylon, NY, and Cambridge, MA, have developed clean energy municipal financing initiatives that other cities are eager to replicate.

In July, ICLEI USA will kick off a three-part webinar series sharing the best practices of these leading municipalities. Join us on July 9 for a primer on Babylon's Long Island Green Homes initiative, followed by the Cambridge Energy Alliance on July 23, and BerkeleyFIRST on July 30.

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Translating Global Imperatives into Local Action

by Don Knapp Jun 16, 2009

ICLEI World Congress South Asian Delegates

ICLEI South Asia delegates at the World Congress 2009 in Edmonton, Canada.

Today at the ICLEI World Congress 2009, representatives are tackling key questions that have been in play ever since the creation of Agenda 21 at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992:

  • How will global developments impact our local community?
  • How do we arrive at a localization of global scenarios?
  • Have our planning processes been far-reaching enough?
  • Are our current frameworks for strategic planning and management up to the challenge?

The answers to these questions will help shape ICLEI's long-term strategy to help local governments worldwide address their varying sustainability challenges, from access to clean water and sanitation to adapting to the impacts of climate change.

One of many roundtable sessions, "Adaptation to Climate Change – Are we adjusting to plan for the long-term?" will feature Harvey Ruvin, County Clerk from Miami-Dade County.

In light of yesterday's report detailing the projected impacts of climate change across the United States--which are not kind to South Florida--Ruvin should be able to provide a real sense of the urgency around adaptation planning.

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Day Three at the ICLEI World Congress: Workshops on Wheels

by Don Knapp Jun 15, 2009

World Congress Walking Tour

To explore sustainability in action, mobile workshops at the ICLEI World Congress 2009 will take participants out into the city and region of Edmonton, Canada. The tours, organized by the themes of the previous day, are an integral part of the congress and are sessions on the move, either by foot, bus or bicycle.

Below, a few of the mobile workshop topics:

  • Safe & Secure Drinking Water: EL Smith Water Treatment Plant
  • Waste Not Want Not: Waste Management Centre
  • Eco-Mobility [Local Motion]
  • Sustainable Urban Redevelopment


More media coverage of the World Congress:

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Local Action Roundup

by Don Knapp Jun 10, 2009

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Want to Start a Cleantech Company? Consider These 5 U.S. Cities

by Don Knapp Jun 10, 2009

Downtown Boston, MA

In 2008, the Boston area saw an investment of $387.17 million in greentech projects,
an increase of 6.8% from 2007. profiles five U.S. cities where cleantech companies should consider taking root. Boston, Denver, Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco -- all ICLEI members -- led the list not only because of their local governments' leadership in sustainability and clean energy investments, but because their metro areas are already populated with cleantech innovators and researchers churning out new ideas. Read the story here.

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