Key Messages of U.S. Leaders During Daring Cities 2022

Key Messages of U.S. Leaders During Daring Cities 2022

This week, bold city leaders, practitioners, researchers, and experts are attending a virtual journey to tackle the multi-faceted challenges of financing humanity’s path out of the climate emergency. Across 13 workshops and seven high-level dialogues, Daring Cities 2022 inspired all to take action, with collaboration across all levels of government as a key strategy.

U.S. climate leadership is viewed as essential if the goals of the Paris Agreement will be met, and we explore key takeaways from ICLEI USA staff and leaders who contributed to sessions, including from Des Moines, Iowa; Travis County, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; and Englewood, Colorado.

Interested in learning more about tackling the multi-faceted challenges of Climate Emergency Finance? Register for FREE for the last day of Daring Cities 2022 here!

City of Des Moines Moves Toward 24/7 Carbon-Free Electricity

Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, and ICLEI President globally, shared his insights on the Inflation Reduction Act as a model for multilevel action. Des Moines’s current climate change impacts include deadly inland hurricanes known as “derechos” and major increases in summer heat temperatures. But Des Moines is taking action to reduce emissions rapidly. The City is the first in the U.S. to pledge 24/7 carbon-free electricity. Working with ICLEI and advanced energy analytics from Google, the City is looking to bring on wind and solar that match hour-by-hour energy use in Des Moines.

In “Moving from triage to treatment: The state of the climate emergency in 2022”, Mayor Cownie said, “It’s time to quit fossil fuels and invest in a just and equitable transition to clean energy like our lives depend on it because quite frankly, they do.”

Travis County Models Wildfire-Resilient Neighborhoods

Brigid Shea, Commissioner of Travis County, Texas Precinct 2 and ICLEI USA Board Chair, shared her county’s experience with climate change during the Daring Cities event “Moving from triage to treatment: The state of the climate emergency in 2022”. In May this year, Travis County joined the Race to Resilience campaign — the companion to the Race to Zero. Travis County will work with ICLEI in 2023 to develop its first climate vulnerability assessment and pursue several high-impact adaptation strategies.

To tackle the climate emergency, Commissioner Shea said, “With my fellow commissioners and the City, we created the Austin/Travis County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This program has won awards for its efforts to empower our neighborhoods to safeguard themselves with data and emergency systems.”

City of San Antonio Puts Cultural Heritage at the Heart of Climate Action

Shanon Miller, Historic Preservation Director at the City of San Antonio, highlighted the importance of culture with climate action. Shannon spoke about how culture played a crucial role in the City’s climate and sustainability initiatives during the “Moving from triage to treatment: The state of the climate emergency in 2022 (Part III)”.

Specifically, Shannon highlighted,“Through Living Heritage Trade Academy and a San Antonio City Council passed “Deconstruction Ordinance,” we’ve contributed to a circular economy with cultural heritage at the center.”

City of Englewood Uses Advanced Greenhouse Gas Analytics

ICLEI USA Program Officer, Hannah Miller, shared the importance of data-driven action and how communities in the United States are using Google Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) to excel and lead in their ambitious climate action. Furthermore, she drew the connection between data and intersectional climate action “Our goal of the ICLEI USA U.S. Community Protocol update is to guide communities through a holistic climate action planning and data-driven Sustainable Communities Suite process focused on equity, adaptation and mitigation.”

Mel Engluand, Sustainability Coordinator at the City of Englewood, shared how to use Google EIE data to make, inform, and implement data-driven climate action decisions. She shared, “Data is a powerful funding mechanism to show the need in our community and the impact of the work and to open a conversation, good or bad, on where a city is on their goals so we can plan today for a better tomorrow.”

The Road to COP27

Daring Cities is the annual “last stop before COP” for the cities and regions community. This year’s Conference of the Parties, known as COP27 because it is the twenty-seventh installment of the UN Climate Conference, will be hosted by Egypt in the city of Sharm El Sheikh, next month.

On the road to COP27, Mayor Frank Cownie offered three key points cities, counties and the world can rally around:

  • Multilevel action must deliver on the Paris Agreement. We must urge all nations to support efforts to create a new, holistic and inclusive initiative for cities under the UNFCCC and the first-ever Climate and Urbanization Ministerial. 
  • Climate finance needs to reach cities and regions to support their commitments. We need to determine how we can position urbanization as a non-market approach, how we can mobilize subnational development banks into climate action, and how we can advance our project pipeline facilities.
  • In the age of climate emergency, we can not ignore loss-and-damage anymore. Together, we must ensure COP27 responds adequately to loss-and-damage in light of climate justice and global solidarity.