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Local Climate Leadership Summit

Big Cities to Congress: Don't Ignore Us in Climate Debate

by Don Knapp Jul 27, 2009

Downtown Chicago, IL

"The climate bill is silent on cities," said Joyce Coffee, director of policy and research
at Chicago's Department of the Environment, in a New York Times/ClimateWire article.

New York and Chicago are large emitters of greenhouse gases due to their size -- and major leaders in the movement to reduce those emissions and mitigate climate change. And today, they lodged a major complaint in a New York Times/ClimateWire article: We're being ignored by Congress as it refines and debates the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

Cities are the key to climate mitigation -- where the battle will be won or lost -- and they're on the front lines of facing the impacts of climate change. So why, say officials from City of Chicago and City of New York, shouldn't a chunk of mitigation and adaptation funding (generated by cap-and-trade revenues) be channeled directly to them? Instead, funding would be distributed to states to then decide who gets it.

Adam Freed, deputy director of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, sums up the sentiment:

One of the biggest disappointments we have with Waxman-Markey is that cities are absolutely invisible in the bill. We control local building codes, local zoning codes, local energy codes [and] emergency management -- very important adaptation tools. Yet all the responsibility for adaptation planning is on the state.

Just an FYI that cities and counties engaging federal leaders on climate change priorities is not new. In December 2008, more than 370 local elected officials submitted the Blueprint for Climate Action to the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress, outlining proposed federal policies and funding to empower local climate action. During Local Climate Action week that same month, they advocated for a green and localized stimulus package.

And in May 2009, 200 local elected officials, sustainability coordinators, energy managers, and others  -- all members of ICLEI and Climate Communities -- gathered in Washington D.C. for the Local Climate Leadership Summit. They met with Administration and Congressional leaders to express support for Waxman-Markey, shine the light on local initiatives and local priorities, and make the case for ongoing federal funding to expand their already successful efforts.

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Buzz Is Building for Ed Mazria's 14x Stimulus Plan

by Don Knapp May 31, 2009

Money Falling From the Sky

The buck starts here: Take one dollar of federal stimulus money earmarked for local government energy efficiency projects, but don't spend it directly on a one-off project. Instead, use it -- and thousands of other dollars -- to create a local program that lowers the mortgage interest rates for homeowners who renovate or invest in energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy systems.

When the program takes off, you'll leverage each $1 to generate $14 of private spending and 14 times the number of jobs, reimburse the federal government $3, put $1 back in your local government coffers--and take a big leap toward your local energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets.

In a nutshell, that's 14x Stimulus: A Plan for State and Local Governments. 14x, the brainchild of Architecture 2030 founder Ed Mazria (who hatched the idea after a 1 a.m. phone call from Michelle Wyman), is winning interest among local governments who see its potential. And if you study the plan and grasp the arithmetic, you'll see what they see: that its everybody-wins ROI is for real.

Mother Jones' Michael Mechanic's May 29 article "What One Stimulus Buck Could Do," tells the story of how Mazria created 14x and caught the attention of local elected officials at the Local Climate Leadership Summit.

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Local Leaders on the Bus to Capitol Hill

by Don Knapp May 30, 2009


The movers and shakers of local climate action hopped on a bus to Capitol Hill during the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. from May 18-20. Local elected officials, sustainability coordinators, energy managers, and others took the trip to make their voices heard, shining the light on local initiatives and local priorities, and making the case for ongoing federal funding to expand their already successful efforts. Check out the on-the-bus interviews, especially the comments of Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell, who explains the troubling climate change consequences for south Florida.

The message from local to federal leaders, especially as the Waxman-Markey climate bill makes its way through Congress: Strong climate action can't wait!

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$467 Million in New Solar and Geothermal Funding

by Don Knapp May 27, 2009

Guest blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager

Dusk on Earth's Mesosphere

On May 27, the Department of Energy (DOE) continued its full court press to advance President Obama’s vision for a clean energy future by announcing $467 million in funding for solar and geothermal energy technologies.

The announcement included a total of six funding opportunity announcements addressing several areas of interest with individual awards reaching into the millions of dollars. (Those local governments who attended the Local Climate Leadership Summit got a sneak peek at several of these announcements during a session held on Monday.)

Of particular interest to local governments in the solar arena are High Penetration Solar Deployment and Solar Market Transformation. While the FOA is not yet available, local governments will also want to keep an eye out for a solicitation for geothermal demonstration projects.

A word to the wise: While geothermal energy technologies have been historically restricted to the western United States, those east of the Mississippi and in other areas not consider “geothermal country” won’t want to miss this announcement, which seeks to expand the range of geothermal energy projects. 

For those interested in other topics, a complete list of DOE’s Recovery Act funding opportunities can be found here.

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Climate Adaptation in the Spotlight in Washington D.C.

by Don Knapp May 21, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Carter, ICLEI Adaptation Manager, reporting from the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

Stethoscope Diagnosing Earth

Adaption, or preparing for current and future climate change impacts, was very much a part of the Local Climate Leadership Summit -- not surprising, given the growing awareness that adaptation must go hand-in-hand with climate mitigation.

The American Climate and Energy Security Act (i.e. the Waxman-Markey Bill) specifically dedicates a portion of the funds generated by its cap-and-trade provisions to adaptation, and also contains an amendment that would provide direct funding to local governments. On May 19, Summit participants visited approximately 130 House and Senate offices, and those efforts seem to have helped: The bill successfully passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, with both the local government and adaptation components intact.

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Words of Wisdom from the White House and Greensburg, KS

by Don Knapp May 20, 2009

Guest Blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager, reporting from the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

DC Summit banner

The site of the Local Climate Leadership Summit was only a few blocks from the White House.  The proximity was evident on Wednesday, May 20, the final day of the Summit which opened with visits from David Agnew and Michael Blake -- city and county liaisons, respectively, for the Executive Office of the President.

The White House embraces local governments, they stated. President Obama recognizes that local governments are on the front lines every day and in particular, on the issue of climate protection, an administration priority. They invited communication “in whatever form” from local governments and emphasized the need for proactive engagement from local governments.


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Tired Feet, Undaunted Spirits

by Don Knapp May 19, 2009

Guest Blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager, reporting from the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

DC summit text

While none of the 100+ local government officials present at the Local Climate Leadership Summit brought with them a pedometer, it’s not hard to imagine the hundreds of thousands of collective steps they took, striding purposefully across the grounds of Capitol Hill on Tuesday May 19, the second day of the Summit.

Their goals: to urge their members of Congress to support passage of the cap-and-trade climate protection system embodied in H.B 2454, also known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, and to support funding in future years for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.


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While the World Slept, Ed Mazria Figured Out How to Save It

by Don Knapp May 18, 2009

Guest Blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager, reporting from the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030Brilliant ideas often have their genesis at 1 a.m., as Ed Mazria testified yesterday at the lunchtime keynote presentation. Weeks ago, said Mazria, “I received an e-mail from Michelle [Wyman, ICLEI Executive Director] at one in the morning asking me to help come up with a proposal for how local governments might best spend their Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding.”

The founder of Architecture 2030 didn’t disappoint: His brainchild, 14x Stimulus: A Plan for State and Local Governments, is a triple threat with the power to create jobs, save energy, and restore the tax base of local communities.

Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030

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Sustainability and Spontaneous Clapping Follow Ron Sims to D.C.

by Don Knapp May 18, 2009

Guest Blogger: Cyrus Bhedwar, ICLEI Southeast Regional Manager, reporting from the Local Climate Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.

Ron SimsIt didn’t take long on day one of the Summit for the crowd of local elected officials and staff to erupt into spontaneous applause. The occasion was the introduction of crowd favorite Ron Sims, former executive of King County and ICLEI USA board member, now Deputy Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And when Sims spoke, he gave them even more reasons to applaud.

Ron Sims

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Breaking News: EPA Says Global Warming Threatens Public Health, Welfare

by Annie Strickler Apr 16, 2009

Thermometer Temperature Rising

By now you’ve seen the headlines. Yes, it’s official. The Environmental Protection Agency (after a thorough scientific review spurred by a 2007 Supreme Court order) proposed a finding today that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that could endanger public health and welfare.

Reaching this milestone enables EPA to begin considering how to address these threats.

And it arrives not a moment too soon. Just ask local governments which have been battling global warming pollution – and planning for its potential impacts – for well over a decade.

Despite the impressive innovations and energy-saving solutions that local governments have conceived as they’ve been reducing GHG emissions, it has long been clear that cities, counties and states desperately need a partner at the federal level to effectively and comprehensively tackle climate change.

Hundreds of local government leaders have already endorsed the Climate Action Blueprint carrying that message. And they’ll be in Washington, D.C., in a few weeks at the Local Climate Leadership Summit to do so in person. Through these efforts, local governments are also ensuring that any federal action takes into consideration their experiences and their needs.

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Five Tips to Compete for Energy and Climate Funding

by Don Knapp Apr 05, 2009

Street sign of opportunity

As local governments get to work on their June 25 applications to tap $3.2 billion in funding through the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, Andy Seth of Climate Communities offers five tips on how to compete successfully:

  1. Build programs instead of projects: Demonstrate that your community will develop sustainable energy/climate programs that will produce long-term results.
  2. Focus on green job creation: Don't forget that economic stimulus dollars should generate new jobs.
  3. Develop partnerships: Regional efforts will be very competitive for federal funding.
  4. Leverage your funds: Tap multiple sources of federal support for your energy/climate efforts.
  5. Join us in D.C.: Attend the May 18-20 Local Climate Leadership Summit, which will feature workshops to make you aware of the many federal resource opportunities available. Sessions at the Summit will cover the do’s and don'ts of EECBG funding, including the development of an effective energy efficiency and conservation strategy.
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