Do Municipal Climate Plans Do Any Good?

With more than 600 cities in the U.S. developing or having enacted formal climate plans, Nate Berg investigates disconcerting new findings that show a lack of any causal connection between greenhouse gas reductions and climate action plans.
March 13, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Berg reports on findings presented in a new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics looking at the climate plans and greenhouse gas emission reductions of cities in California, and the lack of connection between the two. However, as emissions decrease, the author of the study doesn't necessarily see the results as a failure, but rather as a chicken and egg scenario.

"Author Adam Millard-Ball, an assistant professor in the geography department at McGill University in Montreal, says it's not so much that the climate plans are driving emissions reductions, but rather that environmentally conscious tendencies of the people in these cities are reducing emissions – and creating an atmosphere in which the creation of a climate plan is politically viable," writes Berg.

According to Berg, "Millard-Ball's study shows that cities with climate plans have shown greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – just not directly as a result of their climate plans...His results suggest that tackling greenhouse gas emissions at the city level is more dependent on individual initiatives and policies than overarching plans."

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Published on Thursday, March 8, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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