Report: Cities Climate Change Initiatives Feature Trees and Green Infrastructure

Oakland, CA (January 11, 2011) – A new report from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives highlights 20 local governments across the U.S. that are taking the initiative to combat global warming, including strategies around their urban tree canopies. The report follows an earlier survey of 298 American cities, which found almost two-thirds are pursuing adaptation planning for climate change.

For example, New York City’s climate change initiative includes $2.4 billion in green infrastructure to capture rainwater through natural methods to prevent flooding. And in Atlanta, GA, the plan is to increase their tree canopy coverage by 10,000 trees by 2013. Eugene, OR is promoting climate-adapted trees for public spaces. Get details on all 20 cities.

While local governments are preparing for increased natural disasters and other threats, their efforts are hampered by a lack of resources and other challenges, according to the survey from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability.

Climate adaptation planning is less of a priority for U.S. local governments than their non-U.S. counterparts. The survey represents the responses of 468 cities worldwide —all members of ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability – with 298 of these from the U.S. The survey is the first effort of its kind to systematically investigate cities’ progress and challenges in climate adaptation planning.

Key findings about U.S. cities identified by the survey include:

  • 74% of U.S. cities have perceived changes in the climate, including increased storm intensity (31%), higher temperatures (30%) and more precipitation (28%).
  • 59% of U.S. cities are pursuing adaptation planning, compared to 68% worldwide. The U.S. had the lowest percentage for any region, with Latin American and Canadian cities having the highest (95% and 92% respectively).
  • 13% of U.S. cities have completed an assessment of their vulnerabilities and risks, compared to 19% globally.
  • The top ranked impacts and issues identified by cities that conducted assessments were increased stormwater runoff (72%), changes in electricity demand (42%), loss of natural systems (39%), and coastal erosion (36%). Other issues that ranked closely behind were loss of economic revenue, drought, and solid waste management.

Related Resources
Local Governments, Extreme Weather, and Climate Change 2012
U.S. Cities and Climate Adaption Survey
Do Cities Really Take the Lead on Climate Change?
How American Cities Are Adapting To Climate Change