In terms of clean energy policies, the Midwest lags behind the rest of the country

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) conducted a study of 100 major cities that found that most cities are not on schedule to reach their own greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and/or do not collect data that would allow them to meaningfully log such reductions. Building government initiatives, sustainability, renewable energy, transportation, and community impact were all factors considered by ACEEE.

Overall, cities in the Midwest trail behind those on the coasts, with only 3 in the leading 20: Minneapolis (4th), Chicago (12th), and St. Paul (20th). Madison was the most enhanced city in the country, ranking 39th, while Milwaukee slid to 53rd place from last year’s ranking. Kansas City was ranked 36th, while St. Louis was ranked 28th.

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, 63 of the 100 cities surveyed in the United States have set a reduction objective. Only 38 of them, however, track the data in a way that allows them to accomplish those objectives, and only 19 of them are on schedule to do so. “Changing what you’re not monitoring in the first place is challenging,” said Stefen Samarripas, ACEEE’s local policy manager and the report’s principal author.

For the very first time this year, ACEEE addressed race and fairness in the rankings. Cities, in general, did not fare well in this regard, and some even dropped in the standings as a result. Just 30 of the 100 cities’ 177 new renewable energy activities were motivated by equity.

For the first time, the rankings included the transportation sector, which accounts for the largest share of national greenhouse gas emissions. Only 25 cities have set targets for the transportation sector. According to an ACEEE press release, three of the 25 cities are on schedule to meet them, while “17 of the list of 25 cities could not offer sufficient data to evaluate their progress.”

“Some cities have more power over what occurs with their transportation as well as transit networks than others,” Samarripas added.

“When it comes to reducing energy consumption or greenhouse emissions from transportation, you’ll need to collaborate with several partners outside of local government.  It could be a local transit body or a large corporation with freight passing through. It could entail collaborating with state governments to consider various levers for reducing [transportation] energy use as well as emissions. Finally, we’ve seen that transportation is the major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and evidence shows that emissions are rising.”

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