The Low Emissions Pathway
Get on the pathway to climate neutrality.
Curb climate change, create new economic opportunities, and improve the health of human and natural systems.
Low Emissions' Key Role
As the lead author of the greenhouse gas accounting protocols, ICLEI serves as the national authority on emissions management for both government operations and community-wide. We help our members and partners establish baseline, set goals, prioritize, implement and monitor actions toward net-zero emissions by mid-century.
Our Approach to Low Emissions
Set your Baselines
We provide local governments with the tools to take an evidence based approach to lowering emissions. Using ICLEI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocols, the ClearPath tool, and ICLEI expert support, local governments establish an emissions baseline and model emissions forecasts in order to set science-based goals. The GHG Contribution Analysis tool offers year-over-year inventory insights.
Develop your Low Emissions Infrastructure
We assist communities to develop both targeted emissions-reduction plans and integrated plans, which address climate mitigation alongside adaptation and equity in a comprehensive process. Our ClearPath tool allows communities to model and implement big-impact actions, including for deep energy efficiency, 100% renewable energy roadmaps, and electrification of buildings and vehicles. Annual cohorts walk communities through zero-net energy buildings, integrated climate action planning, government operations tune-ups and more.
Collaborate and Lead the Movement
ICLEI’s Climate Neutrality Framework moves communities beyond accounting and planning toward full-cycle climate leadership. Opportunities include consumption-based and forest-carbon emissions accounting, supply chain accounting, fossil fuel divest-reinvest campaigns, and accounting for carbon offsets as part of a greater climate strategy. Connection to global initiatives, such as the UNFCCC Race to Zero, Global Covenant of Mayors, and 100% Renewable Energy Cities & Regions Network will help you accelerate faster. We support our members to report to CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System.
ICLEI USA Low Emissions Projects
Montgomery County has a very aggressive goal for emissions reduction. They aim to hit 80% reduction by 2027 and 100% reduction by 2030 for government
- King County, Washington’s Wedge Analysis models priority high-impact climate actions using ClearPath’s planning module.
- Philipstown, New York’s greenhouse gas inventory added to protocol-compliant approaches by accounting for household consumption and the emissions removals and sequestration of the community’s forests and wetlands.
- New York City’s Fossil Fuel Divestment case study is the first detailed look at a city-scale divestment strategy.
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments uses the Contribution Analysis tool to model trends that are driving emissions change in Washington, DC-area communities.
ICLEI USA Low Emissions Cohorts
Cohorts are guided group technical assistance programs that guide communities to results. Learn More.
ICLEI USA Low Emissions Resources
Working Paper: Analysis of U.S. Local Government Science-Based Targets and Pathways to Achieve Them in the Race to Zero
This paper discusses the analysis, findings, and recommendations conducted by ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) to highlight the needed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
ICLEI USA’s analysis of nearly one hundred city and county greenhouse gas emissions inventories shows that it is possible to reach aggressive 2030 science-based targets.
- ICLEI’s Climate Neutrality Framework offers a full-cycle strategy for deep decarbonization that uses resilience as an entry point.
- The GreenClimateCities program is our assess-act-accelerate progression for cities seeking integrated climate approaches.
- 100% Renewable Energy Cities and Regions Network is a working group for global lead cities advancing clean energy.
Low Emissions Testimonials
Mountain Towns Cohort
“We had just started meeting as a cohort of governments to discuss resilience initiatives when we found out about the opportunity to have support from ICLEI through the MT2030 group. The guidance and resources that ICLEI provided streamlined our process of creating GHG inventories for each city and the county. At times, it was not easy to “herd cats” so to speak between governments and interns, but Tom showed infinite patience with our questions and extended timeframe due to COVID and an influx of new residents to our remote location in the Wood River Valley of Idaho. Comparing each city showed surprising differences in the sources of emissions. We are so excited by this foundation and the opportunity to use the information to develop a Climate Action Plan! Already, stakeholders are incorporating emissions into decision-making such as evaluating options for recycling collection. Clean energy goals have been adopted by several jurisdictions. And, funding has been allocated to create a Regional Sustainability Manager!”
"As a coastal community, Hoboken has directly felt the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent storms. At the same time, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars adapting to the realities of climate change, Big Oil companies have engaged in a decades-long campaign of misinformation that has contributed to global warming which has disproportionately impacted our residents. It’s time these companies pay their fair share and be held accountable for their actions."
"Why must local governments act on climate? Because we can! We can divest from fossil fuels and we can invest in zero-emissions practices. When we do, we demonstrate that it’s achievable, economically viable, and we all benefit. Is city action enough? No—but it is essential."
"Reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 will require strong leadership and dedication, and while it will be hard, Flagstaff can meet this challenge and turn current risks into future opportunities that are accessible to all residents equally. We are indebted to the community members that brought this initiative forward, specifically Flagstaff’s youth, and look forward to working with them to achieve this critical goal."
"ICLEI has helped tremendously with San Antonio’s greenhouse gas inventories. The team consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that our staff understands the process at each step of the way, offering to write summaries, notate and keep track of changes, and attend meetings and briefings as needed. From transferring our 2016 data from CIRIS to ClearPath, to entering the raw data for 2019, and offering recommendations and best practices, the assistance that was provided to our city and community is truly invaluable."
Indiana University Resilience Cohort
“[Without the Indiana University Resilience Cohort], we would not have had the internal capacity to complete GHG Inventory based on current staffing levels”
Zero Net Energy Cohort
"As a local government sustainability practitioner, the 2019 Zero Net Energy Cohort webinar series provided me with valuable and detailed expertise and case studies from professionals in the field that advanced our approach to zero net energy at the City of Fremont. The webinar format offered a fine balance of technical assessments of leading edge ZNE technologies and policies and practical discussions of the governmental, economic, and cultural considerations for implementation. This added knowledge will inform the Sustainability Team’s development of policy measures, local sustainability projects, and local building reach codes as the City continues to push towards its ambitious climate and sustainability goals."
“Montgomery County jumped at the opportunity to explore the sequestration benefits associated with trees and forests. Given our aggressive GHG reduction goals of 80 percent by 2027 and carbon neutrality by 2035, increased sequestration must be in the mix of strategies we employ. The new protocol also has prompted us to think more deeply about natural climate solutions ranging from reducing the heat-island effect to increasing sequestration in the agricultural sector.”
“Working with ICLEI to achieve SolSmart designation showed us we are on the right track and that we should continue to work through the SolSmart roadmap. As a designated Silver community, we can strive to meet gold designation. SolSmart incentivizes the County to go further."