Below is from  Julia Rotondo:

Hi! This is Julia, the new Development and Environment Intern, writing. I’m a graduate student at American University studying global environmental policy with a focus on climate change. Because climate change is such an all-encompassing topic, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me on it again, but I wanted to use today’s blog post to talk a bit about the connection between climate change and cities.

A first thought, it might seem that cities are the antithesis of everything environmentalists fight for; after all, most cities have few green spaces, have so much concrete that they’re often hotter than surrounding rural spaces, and consume massive amounts of resources and energy. However, a recent article from Michael Coren in The Guardian argues that cities are leading the way to a “low-carbon future.”

Coren writes:

“Cities have a unique power to drive immediate change involving issues such as public transportation, but they also can help influence prosaic long-term land use planning (think about all those interminable city council meetings) to realize truly sustainable cities. No futuristic visions of cities are needed. For now, the reality is more mundane: asphalt recycling and better insulation in buildings, timers for coffee makers and telecommuting, light sensors, and water conservation.”

The article also mentions that over 1,000 cities in the United State are working together to adopt greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Coren highlights the actions of Boston, MA (instituting a green building code for private projects), Gainsville, FL (the city pays a premium for solar power fed from private properties back into the grid), and Babylon, NY (where homeowners are eligible for loans to make their homes more energy efficient).

Curious to see what steps my own city (Washington, D.C) has made, I visited DC’s municipal website. After a bit of internet sleuthing, I foundgreen.dc.gov, a great resource for a comprehensive list of environmental issues and services in DC. The site features a mix of the small projects (a five cent tax on plastic bags to help fund the clean-up of the Potomac River) to large-scale climate change goals (Mayor Fenty’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020). Have you looked at what your town is doing?

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