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The Ambition Gap: From Intent to Implementation in Local Climate Action – Policy Brief

During 2022, ICLEI USA engaged in more than 50 focused conversations with its members to understand the implementation priorities, barriers, and support needs of moving beyond planning into actionable sustainability work. These insights culminate in this policy brief covering the following topics:

  • Increase in availability of federal funding for local governments to address climate action.
  • The need for bespoke technical assistance approaches for each member.
  • Understanding the placement and roles of sustainability teams within local government.
  • A recognition of the agency and capacity of members.
  • The importance of elected leadership.

The discussions with members uncovered the disparity between the human and financial capacity allocated by local governments and the goals and ambitions that are being established as part of climate action plans. We define this disparity as the “ambition gap”, a recognition by many local governments of the need to take significant action on climate, but limiting the level of resource allocation to meet the levels of support required to meet their targets and goals. This policy brief intends to initiate a process to appropriate greater human and financial resource allocation towards the execution of the attainment of municipal climate targets.

From these conversations, we developed recommendations for communities as they put federal dollars to work and push to accelerate climate implementation between now and 2030.