Landmark Bills Offer Decarbonization Funding but Cities Not Ready

September 30, 2022 by Kate Michael
Landmark Bills Offer Decarbonization Funding but Cities Not Ready
(Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The effort to mitigate climate change, reduce greenhouse gases, and decarbonize is a national priority of many countries, but since the transportation, building, and electricity sectors produce nearly two-thirds of GHG emissions in the United States alone, it’s clear that cities are going to be a vital proving ground for U.S. sustainability targets. 

Policy reforms, new technologies, and capital investments are main requirements for achieving transformational change, but despite historic federal investment in these areas, Washington cannot achieve its goals alone. 

“Congress is taking historic actions,” Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., said at a Brookings Institution meeting about accelerating city climate planning, “but states and localities will be essential.”

“Clean energy transition projects are needed,” he added. “If we fail to do so we will lose most of the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act.”


The IRA is just one of a trio of landmark bills — including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and CHIPS and Science Act — that invests billions of dollars across a range of programs to reduce emissions and support new technologies that decarbonize the built environment.

This once-in-a-generation federal funding opportunity may be missed, however, if cities aren’t ready to step up to the challenge. 

“The administration will be creating a number of grant programs. States and cities need to have their plans ready to go so these monies can go to the highest impact projects,” Peters stressed. 

“And local governments that can clearly show how the funding can present a better future will be in a better position to secure that funding.”

But a new report from Brookings suggests that gaps and deficiencies in city climate planning could hinder or derail national objectives. 

“Many cities aren’t ready,” Joe Kane, a fellow at Brookings’ Metro program, said. “Cities are drafting climate action plans — there are literally thousands of plans among cities — but [they] fail to specify detailed actions.”


“The problem is not a lack of pledges and plans. The problem is cities are having trouble moving beyond these pledges and plans.”

In a study of the comprehensive decarbonization plans of 50 of the country’s largest cities, Kane and his co-authors found that almost every one lacked detail on funding and financing, with most not even developing cost estimates for their projects. 

“Cities don’t always have the money to execute on their plans,” he said, suggesting that it may be hard to secure funding from federal grant programs if they cannot offer a budget and scope for projects.

Equity and environmental justice omissions were also worrying. Kane admitted that “few [city plans] spell out detailed actions to deliver it.”

“Nearly every plan has clear [decarbonization] targets but no detailed benchmarks,” Kane said, and only a little more than half provide any designation or clearly commit an entity or collection of departments to own decarbonization planning.

“Decarbonizing the built environment is already challenging and our [bureaucracies] only add to the challenge,” Kane said. 

“We cannot leave climate action up to chance,” he added. “[Neither Washington] nor cities [can] go it alone, but planning for the sake of planning is not good enough either.” 

Suggestions from the Brookings report include honestly assessing cities’ current capacity to decarbonize, establishing regional leadership to coordinate a strategy, developing a skilled workforce to manage decarbonization efforts, standardizing climate data and measurement and establishing clear funding sources. 


Kate can be reached at [email protected]

 

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Think Tanks

November 1, 2022
by Kate Michael
Analysts Stress Overpopulation Is Not Climate Culprit

WASHINGTON — Population trends analysts are still trying to quash the idea that overpopulation causes climate change.  While connected, there... Read More

WASHINGTON — Population trends analysts are still trying to quash the idea that overpopulation causes climate change.  While connected, there is no simple and direct relationship between human numbers and environmental impacts. So to move forward toward real environmental change, some analysts believe that paying attention... Read More

October 17, 2022
by Kate Michael
Outgoing COP26 President Sharma: ‘We Are Not Doing Everything in Our Power’

WASHINGTON — “We should be under no delusions; we are not doing everything in our power,” outgoing COP26 president and... Read More

WASHINGTON — “We should be under no delusions; we are not doing everything in our power,” outgoing COP26 president and British Cabinet Minister Alok Sharma candidly shared with the Wilson Center last week as he looked back on his three years leading the Conference of the... Read More

October 11, 2022
by Kate Michael
European Leaders Frustrated With Geopolitics Slowing Progress Toward Clean Energy Transition

ISTANBUL — There was candor and heated conversation as the Atlantic Council convened in Turkey this week for a conference... Read More

ISTANBUL — There was candor and heated conversation as the Atlantic Council convened in Turkey this week for a conference to discuss next steps in the clean energy transition. Leaders from government, business and research communities gathered to take stock of global developments, including how geopolitical... Read More

September 30, 2022
by Kate Michael
Landmark Bills Offer Decarbonization Funding but Cities Not Ready

WASHINGTON — The effort to mitigate climate change, reduce greenhouse gases, and decarbonize is a national priority of many countries,... Read More

WASHINGTON — The effort to mitigate climate change, reduce greenhouse gases, and decarbonize is a national priority of many countries, but since the transportation, building, and electricity sectors produce nearly two-thirds of GHG emissions in the United States alone, it’s clear that cities are going to... Read More

September 27, 2022
by Kate Michael
Pakistani Foreign Minister Praises Diplomacy but Blames ‘Great Polluters’ for Climate Catastrophe

WASHINGTON — After what he called “encouraging” talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari... Read More

WASHINGTON — After what he called “encouraging” talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari dealt harsh chastisements and warnings for the United States at the Wilson Center on Tuesday morning. Despite saying he was “pleasantly surprised and absolutely impressed” with... Read More

September 26, 2022
by Kate Michael
China Seeking Financial Self-Reliance, Developing Yuan as Monetary Pillar Equal to Dollar

WASHINGTON — Beijing, in an effort to assert its own influence and reconfiguration of the global financial order, is working... Read More

WASHINGTON — Beijing, in an effort to assert its own influence and reconfiguration of the global financial order, is working on long-term plans to decouple from the dollar, according to a new book introduced at the Wilson Center earlier this week.  In their new release, “China’s... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top