Ask Mayors

Over 1,000 mayors are signatories to the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement — a landmark pledge by mayors nationwide to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operations and in communities.(1),(2) To date, mayors representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico have signed the agreement.(3),(4)

“As leaders of the nation’s cities, we continue to urge the federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence, create American jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, and protect our environment, eliminate waste and fight climate change.”
— US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement

Part of the pledge urges the higher levels of government to promote energy independence, accelerate energy efficiency and clean energy development, and adapt buildings and infrastructure to changing climate conditions.


Below, find out how seven cities are responding to climate change.


Carmel, IN
Five-term Republican Mayor Jim Brainard has been re-elected repeatedly, in part because of his clean energy efforts. In 2005, he issued an executive order for the city to purchase hybrid and biofuel vehicles. He also works to make Carmel more walkable by replacing traffic lights with roundabouts, which conserve electricity and gasoline while reducing automobile emissions.(5),(6)

“There are a lot of Republicans [like me] around who care about the environment. Clean air and clean water should be non-partisan.”
– Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, 7/7/14


South Miami, FL
Located 10 miles outside of Miami, South Miami is a few miles inland, but the city still struggles with flooding. As sea level rises, South Miami’s gravity-fed sewer system stops working, so water puddles rather than drains. The city is installing pumps, but they are not designed to be permanent solutions.(7),(8)

“Another foot of sea-level rise will be enough to bring salt water into our fresh water supplies and our sewage system. Those services will be lost when that happens.”
– South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard, 7/11/2014


Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas set a goal to become the nation’s first “net-zero” city, meaning it would create the same amount of energy with renewables as it uses, reclaim all wastewater for reuse and recycle, reuse or compost all of its waste. The city has already constructed 1 million square feet of energy-efficient government buildings. It has also changed out more than 80 percent of its street lighting with efficient LED bulbs and increased its solar energy production. Last June, Las Vegas also was a top winner in the 2014 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.(9),(10)

“What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn’t just stay here.”
– Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, 6/20/14


Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative
More than 45 mayors make up the newly formed Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, which is drawing attention to the important role that the nation’s largest waterway plays in the economy, transportation and the environment. “If the river closes for just one day,” says St. Cloud, MS, Mayor David Kleis, “the loss to the U.S. economy is $300 million.” Two years ago, the worst drought in 50 years endangered local river transportation and drinking water supplies.(11)

“[2012 brought] one of the worst droughts this country has ever witnessed… yet as we stand here today, our nation has not yet developed a national drought policy.”
– Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, 3/21/2013


Houston, TX
Houston is vulnerable to many of the effects of climate change, including more frequent and severe hurricanes, extreme heat and drought.(12) And the city is taking action. Realizing the dangers posed by climate change, Houston is doing its part to lower emissions and work toward a solution for all cities.

Mayor Annise Parker’s initiatives include a multi-year effort to retrofit all 262 city-owned buildings – including fire stations, libraries and performance halls – in order to make them more energy efficient. The improvements are expected to reduce energy use by 30 percent in more than 5 million square feet of office space.13 To recognize its efforts, the U.S. Conference of Mayors awarded Houston first place in the 2011 Climate Protection Awards.(12),(13)

“If Houston wants to continue to be a vibrant and dynamic city, we need to be resilient in the face of any kind of natural disaster or a changing climate. Even though some of the problems are long term, we’re already seeing changes in the short term. Our sustainability efforts are an investment in the city and our future. It’s a way of insuring our assets and our people.”
– Houston Mayor Annise Parker, 5/14/2012


Des Moines, IA
Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines, knows that climate change will affect public health, the electric grid and how the world is fed. Over the past 40 years, extreme rainfall has increasingly impacted the Midwest, resulting in regular flooding in Des Moines and reduced crop yields for Iowa’s farmers. Recently the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience met in Des Moines and made recommendations to the federal government on how it can best help communities deal with the impact of climate change.(12),(14)

“It’s no longer, ‘Maybe climate change is happening.’ We have the science and data that prove climate change is happening. We know scientifically what the causes are. Now we need to set about dealing with it.”
– Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, 5/12/2014


Arlington, TX
To create a cleaner city, Arlington officials work with community businesses and residents to offer better transportation choices as well as better building efficiency and infrastructure. According to Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, the plan has also created new jobs.(15)

“Local governments are in a good position to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and stimulate the local economy.”
– Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, 10/13/14




  1. The United States Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Center
  2. The United States Conference of Mayors 82nd Annual Meeting
  3. The United States Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Center
  4. The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreemen
  5. City of Carmel, IN
  6. The Huffington Post
  7. The Miami Herald
  8. The Guardian
  9. Green Chips Southern Nevada Sustainability Portal
  10. The Las Vegas Sun
  11. Quad City Times
  12. Mayors Climate Protection Center: Mayors and Climate Best Practices
  13. My Green Arlington
  14. The Des Moines Register
  15. The White House, Council on Environmental Quality: State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience


  1. Mayors Sign Climate Protection Agreement – Mayors Climate Protection Center
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