Close this search box.

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 reduction contributions from local governments, to illustrate the realistic pathways to achieve those reductions, to generate discussion and critical feedback, and to influence ongoing advancement of emerging policies and programs.

Executive Summary Highlights

  • All U.S. local, regional, and state governments should adopt a science-based 2030 emission reduction target (SBT) to hold global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by midcentury as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
  • The median per-capita SBT for U.S. local governments is 63.3% reduction by 2030, based on a 50% global reduction and adjusted upwards based on each country’s Human Development Index, per ICLEI USA’s application of the WWF One Planet Cities Challenge methodology.
  • This analysis reviewed GHG inventories of 138 U.S. local governments (referenced as “communities” throughout) representing the most recent year of emissions between 2016 – 2019), developed and recorded in ICLEI’s ClearPath tool.
  • Under a realistic, though ambitious, set of assumptions, it is possible for most U.S. local communities to reduce per-capita emissions by 63% or more by 2030.

This initial working paper will be followed by additional analysis on this topic in 2022.  ICLEI welcomes reader comment and input to help shape future analysis.  Contact us at