Cities Putting Officials in Charge of Sustainability

As cities get serious about addressing climate change, a new city position -- the sustainability director -- is taking office all over the country.

"Fayetteville's mayor, Dan Coody, is one of 805 mayors nationally who have signed pledges to slash their cities' greenhouse gas emissions in line with targets set in the Kyoto Protocol. Those mayors have lapped up international praise for leading on climate change where Washington lagged. But the truth is, they are just now getting down to figuring out what exactly they have agreed to. What does it really mean to reduce a city's carbon footprint?"

"Most mayors haven't thought this question through too far yet. But the ones who have are finding that one of the first things to do is to hire a John Coleman. About three dozen cities now have sustainability directors of their own, and there are more whose job titles reflect either the broader fight against climate change or the somewhat narrower quest for energy efficiency. The idea is to have one person - or in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and other big cities, entire staffs - dedicated to squeezing greenhouse gas emissions out of the way government does business, and to serve as both a liaison and a beacon to businesses and citizens who want to limit their own carbon output."

Full Story: Mr. Sustainability

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