Cities across the world are committing to climate neutrality and taking bold action to get there. Reykjavík, Iceland is using geothermal energy to achieve its 2040 neutrality target, New York City is divesting from fossil fuels and the Australian Capital Territory intends to hit 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020.
The Paris Agreement aims for global climate neutrality in the second half of the century – and it is widely recognized that national governments alone cannot achieve this objective. This was the impetus for United Nations Climate Change to launch its Climate Neutral Now initiative in 2015 – the same year nations adopted the Paris Agreement – to engage companies, organizations, governments and citizens in efforts to achieve climate neutrality.
ICLEI has long advocated that local and regional governments commit to climate neutrality targets. We push our network to step up and demonstrate leadership that spurs action by community stakeholders and national governments alike.
This past June, at the ICLEI World Congress in Montréal, ICLEI issued a call to action targeting local and regional governments across our network. In the ICLEI Montréal Commitment, we call on local and regional governments to aim for 100 percent renewable energy and divest from fossil fuels as critical steps to achieve climate neutral government operations and infrastructure.
Climate neutral government operations are just a starting point. Because local and regional governments directly manage government buildings, transport fleets and other city and regional operations, they can demonstrate leadership by deploying ambitious policies, concepts, actions and technologies to achieve neutrality. They can, as a result, spur broader, community-scale action and greater ambition from national governments.
To many local and regional governments, climate neutrality – at first glance – might seem like a distant goal. ICLEI is determined to demystify this process. We have outlined four clear steps local and regional governments can take to achieve climate neutrality, starting with government operations: