COP21, the Paris Climate Summit held last December, signaled that climate change now dominates global agendas. All nations agreed that global warming is an urgent threat to humans and the planet and must be dealt with, as we meet the needs of the world’s poor. NCS was there and had a hand in ensuring that the deal made it across the finish line. A month later the gathering of world leaders and CEO’s at Davos, Switzerland surveyed CEO’s of major global companies, who stated that climate change is the most pressing problem facing the world, eclipsing terrorism and economics.
Cities around the world recognize that they must act to meet the climate challenge. Over 1,000 cities (and growing) committed to go carbon neutral or to become 100% renewably powered. Thousands of others are figuring out what to do, including how to draft climate protection plans.
Such heightened awareness is good, but is only the beginning. Now the hard work begins. Elected officials are under pressure to take bold actions, but the Paris accord did not deliver tools to implement urgently needed solutions, particularly at state and municipality levels.
It’s easy to state an intention, more difficult to understand how to set science-based goals or implement a holistic program to cut energy use, shift to renewable energy, reform the transportation sector, and ensure food supplies in a warming world. This is where our work comes in.
NCS’ experts have worked on climate solutions since the mid-1970s. We have a broad network of municipal to global level leaders tackling this issue. NCS’ leadership wrote some of the earliest and most widely read climate action books, drafted a 100-day Presidential Climate Action Plan, and published climate protection guides for communities, companies, and countries. We have facilitated energy summits for major metropolitan areas, helped flood-ravaged communities rebuild by integrating sustainability into their recovery plans, and consulted for communities across the globe on sustainable energy strategies, resilient community design, climate adaptation plans, and building the business case for climate protection.
Now, with initial funding from the Hunt Foundation, Natural Capitalism is developing a Climate Action Roadmap(CAR) for cities (beta site available here). We will leverage NCS’ decades of experience in community sustainability, economic development, resilience and climate protection to develop and distribute a flexible, freely available roadmap, based on best practices that are emerging but not yet widely implemented around the world.
NCS has developed and road tested numerous tools to enable cities to solve complex sustainability challenges. Our Cities Climate Protection Manual, for example, has been used by hundreds of cities. Our methodology for evaluating the cost effectiveness of various sustainability efforts showed the County of Boulder, Colorado, that every dollar spent on sustainability programs (e.g. energy efficiency, solar on low-income housing, etc.) returned five dollars to tax payers, helping the City address social equity and climate change simultaneously. These, and dozens of other tools, will be blended with a best practices, GAP analysis of municipal-level climate policies, plans and activities to give urban regions the guidance they need to establish cutting edge climate action roadmaps.
Other groups will be invited to share their learning, tools, and case studies on an interactive site. These efforts will create the online, go-to source that anyone wishing to create their own urban climate action plan will need – in essence the ultimate go-to “Wiki” resource for sustainable cities. It will provide tools that are reliable, replicable, scalable, and affordable. Sustainability is too important to leave to consultants making money by protecting proprietary information. The knowledge and tools needed to implement genuine sustainability should be affordable and available to everyone. Cities and citizens know that they need to act but are unsure where to start. Natural Capitalism Solutions is transforming “overwhelming” to “easy” with a readily available Climate Action Roadmap.
We will facilitate conversations among key municipal leaders and decision makers, experts from non-profits, business, and academia, and other key stakeholders, inviting them to feed into and learn from the CAR platform as they build healthy, resilient, and sustainable urban communities. With step-by-step directions for effective implementation, tutorials, case studies, and tools that have guided organizations globally, the platform will enable companies, communities, and citizens to access the content they need to create their own solutions. It will encourage collaboration and peer review, allowing anyone in the community to improve existing resources and share their own tools and resources, broadening the resource base for cities and activists.