Survey: Mayors Concerned About Direct Impacts of Climate Change

Almost all U.S. mayors have some level of concern about climate change in their communities, but local leaders face some challenges in taking action.

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January 22, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of signs being held up at climate change protest

DisobeyArt / Climate change protest

A new report from the Boston University Initiative on Cities indicates that most U.S. mayors are concerned about the impacts of climate change on their communities. As Michael Brady writes in Smart Cities Dive, 97 percent of mayors surveyed said climate change was a concern, while over half worry about drought, extreme heat, flooding, and air pollution. Notably, “There was no partisan gap among mayors.”

According to the report, “Mayors said their regulatory powers, especially building codes and zoning, are their most effective tools to address climate change.” Cities are also focusing on replacing municipal fleets with electric vehicles in an effort to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Per the survey, 74 percent “of mayors support replacing their city’s municipal vehicles before their natural lifecycle ends, which suggests a major opportunity to capitalize on new federal funds for things like electric school buses, fire trucks, and public works vehicles.”

However, “Local climate action can be costly and complicated, and it has to compete with all of the other challenges mayors are facing.” Brady explains, “Major concerns for mayors include the current costs and environmental effects of energy supplies.” Some are also concerned about the political fallout of unpopular decisions, seeking solutions with the fewest hard tradeoffs for their constituents.

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