NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From coast
to coast, U.S. cities have multiplied their efforts to emit
fewer greenhouse gases and brace for climate change-driven
natural disasters, scientists and environmentalists say.
Amid uncertainty over whether Washington will withdraw from
a global accord to combat climate change, many are increasingly
pinning their hopes on cities to cut global warming greenhouse
Last month U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said he was
keeping an open mind on whether to pull out of the Paris Climate
Agreement, and has appointed two climate skeptics to top jobs in
Below are five U.S. cities that have left their mark on the
fight against climate change in 2016:
1. Portland, Oregon
Portland in 2016 made national headlines by pushing the
frontiers of how municipal governments can speed up the
transition from fossil fuel to clean energy.
Earlier this month, the West Coast city of nearly 600,000
people said it was the first nationwide to ban the construction
of new bulk fossil-fuel storage facilities on its territory.
"Now more than ever ... local community voices are needed,
because the risks of not acting on climate change are just too
severe," Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said after adopting the
new rules which prohibit the construction of fossil-fuel storage
facilities exceeding two million gallons.
2. Burlington, Vermont
This year Vermont's largest urban center put together a plan
to pursue its goal of becoming a 'net-zero city' - meaning it
now aims to consume only as much energy as it generates.
"We are doing things that other bigger cities sometimes
really even aren't thinking about yet," said Neale Lunderville,
general manager of the Burlington Electric Department (BED), a
part of the municipal government, in a telephone interview.
Burlington, a former manufacturing town of 42,000 people,
became the first U.S. city to run 100 percent on renewable
energy in 2014 including wind and solar power, according to BED.
3. San Diego, California
With a population of nearly 1.4 million people, San Diego
was the largest U.S. city in 2016 to have committed to producing
all its energy from renewable sources.
The city, located in the drier southern part of California,
has had to introduce water cuts to combat prolonged drought in
the state which has been aggravated by climate change.
San Diego's mayor Kevin Faulconer has committed some $130
million of a $3.4 billion budget for 2017 to funding various
projects to tackle climate change such as installing solar
panels to new bike lanes and energy-efficient street lights.
4. Cleveland, Ohio
In 2016, Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie made progress
on what could be the country's first freshwater offshore
As part of Project Icebreaker, six turbines are to be
installed eight to 10 miles off Cleveland's shore with the aim
of meeting 10 percent of the electricity needs of some 6,000
The $120 million project, the brainchild of community group
the Cleveland Foundation, received a boost in May when the U.S.
Department of Energy announced it would award $40 million to
help cover the construction of the wind turbines by 2018.
5. Baltimore, Maryland
In a first nationally, Baltimore announced in 2016 it would
beef up its disaster-preparedness plans with neighborhood
centers to help the most vulnerable in disasters, according to
Kristin Baja, climate and resilience planner for the city
The centers will be fully equipped with backup electricity
and fresh water, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The seaside city of more than half a million people is
particularly susceptible to flooding, hurricanes and storms.
"It's an interesting model," said Garrett Fitzgerald, an
advisor for the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a
coalition of U.S. and Canadian cities.
"People need a place to go that they can walk to, that they
know, that they trust, where they feel safe," he told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation.
(Sources: City of Portland, Burlington Electric Department, City
of San Diego, Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, City of
Baltimore, Urban Sustainability Directors Network, Natural
Resources Defense Council, ICLEI U.S.A.)
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)