Cities join the Race to Zero around the world to strengthen national goals

ICLEI US launches the ICLEI150 Race to Zero

On the occasion of Earth Week and the U.S. Climate Leaders Summit, 21 city and county leaders in the United States launched the ICLEI150 Race to Zero. This initiative represents an effort to significantly advance local carbon neutrality efforts in the United States and demonstrate U.S. leadership in the global Cities Race to Zero initiative.

These leaders will take bold action to reach climate neutrality by 2050, while protecting their communities from the devastating effects of climate-driven extreme weather, promote climate justice, and create new economic opportunities in their communities.

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy and resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. ICLEI joins other global partners including C40 Cities, CDP, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, United Cities and Local Governments, WRI, and WWF.

More than 700 cities around the world have already committed to the Race to Zero.

“It is inspiring to see all the local governments that are stepping up and fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is our communities that are on the front line, bearing the brunt of climate disasters and creating new ways to be better prepared,” said Brigid Shea, ICLEI USA Board Chair and Travis County TX Commissioner. “We are full partners with the US and other nations of the world in tackling this enormous challenge.”

The ICLEI network of local and regional governments has been raising its commitments to fight climate change year after year. At COP25 in Madrid, ICLEI joined Chile and the UNFCCC’s Climate Ambition Alliance, bringing over 400 ambitious cities to the table. In June 2020, through the leadership of High-Level Climate Action Champions Gonzalo Munoz and Nigel Topping, this evolved into the Race to Zero Campaign establishing minimum criteria for compliance and recognition. In November 2020, Cities Race To Zero Initiative was launched.

In early 2021, ICLEI’s Climate Neutrality Framework was approved by the UNFCCC Champions as one of the global frameworks for joining the Race to Zero. ICLEI’s offices worldwide are offering services to empower cities to join the Cities Race to Zero to show their commitment to a climate-neutral future.

“In Japan, more than 366 cities and prefectures, representing 86 percent of the Japanese population are committed to climate neutrality by 2050, accelerating national commitments. Japan will be eager to disseminate the spirit of the decarbonization domino effect globally,” said H.E. Shinjirō Koizumi, Japan’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change recently at ICLEI’s World Congress 2021 – 2022 virtual launch. He further commended ICLEI´s clear framework and announced further collaboration.

National governments are taking note of subnational action. For example, the recent US-Japan Climate Partnership agreement announced by US President Joseph Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide on 16 April 2021 included a powerful reference to subnational action: “The United States and Japan recognize the critical importance of subnational government action in achieving our climate goals, and will collaborate to promote action globally to recognize, support, and accelerate subnational climate action.”

ICLEI President Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, US, elevated Japan’s work as an example of how local government action, such as the Race-to-Zero, translates into national government ambition. “The experience that we see in Japan is the perfect example that the more national governments motivate, listen and support local governments, the more national plans can be ambitious,” said Mayor Cownie.

ICLEI150 is an ICLEI USA initiative. During 2021, ICLEI USA will support 150 U.S. local governments in the Cities Race to Zero through the development of their 2030 science-based emission reduction target and guidance to implement at least one high-impact action. Participants receive ICLEI USA’s support to achieve climate goals, build back better, put America back to work, and build healthy, resilient communities.

“The City of Boulder is proud to stand with other cities in the Race to Zero. We know that cities acting alone won’t come close to the action needed to stabilize our climate, so we are grateful for the chance to collaborate,” said Sam Weaver, City of Boulder Mayor. “Cities are where integrated solutions, backed up by ambitious policy and urban planning, will be critical in creating the systemic change needed to create a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous world.”

Twenty-one US communities have announced their participation in the ICLEI150 as of 21 April 2021:

Honorable Mayor Christopher Taylor, Ann Arbor, MI

Honorable Mayor Lauren McLean, Boise, ID

Honorable Mayor Sam Weaver, Boulder, CO

Honorable Mayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines, IA

Honorable Mayor Melanie Piana, Ferndale, MI

Honorable Mayor Nicola Armacost, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Honorable Mayor Ravinder Bhalla, Hoboken, NJ

Honorable Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City, NJ

Councilmember Kelly King, Maui County, HI

Honorable Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County, FL

County Executive Marc Erlich, Montgomery County, MD

Honorable Mayor Linda Slocum Oberlin OH

Honorable Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando, FL

Honorable Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh, PA

Honorable Mayor Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio, TX

Honorable Mayor Sam Liccardo, San Jose, CA

Commissioner Anna Hansen, Santa Fe, NM

Mayor Melvin Carter, Saint Paul, MM

Mayor Rick Kriseman, St Petersburg, FL

Commissioner Brigid Shea, Travis County, TX

Commissioner Sue Shink, Washtenaw County, MI


Join all the events celebrating climate action in the US:

  1. 20 April, 9:00 EDT | Localizing SDG13: Cities Leading on Climate Action through the Voluntary Local Review
  2. 21 April, 9:00 EDT | CitiesWithNature: The missing piece to building back better
  3. 21 April, 10:00 EDT | Multilevel climate action and 2nd U.S. NDCs – COP26 Roadmap
  4. 21 April, 12:00 EDT | Cities Race to Zero: Local leaders on why and how

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