This article describes strategies that local governments are employing to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, using their state-given powers to plan community development and to regulate private building. Local governments have significant legal authority to shape human settlements and, in so doing, lower CO2 emissions from buildings and vehicles, increase the sequestration of carbon by the natural environment, and promote distributed energy systems and renewable energy facilities that lower fossil fuel consumption. Local elected leaders are highly motivated to avoid the on-the-ground consequences of our changing climate. The effects of climate change manifest themselves at the local level, where people are killed or injured, property is destroyed, businesses are shuttered, ecosystems are fouled, and where our democratic system is most vibrant and able to respond. In 2014, the international community caught up with local governments in the global race against climate change. That year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change embraced the critical role of municipal governments in mitigating the causes of climate change. In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement adopted by the Conference of the Parties followed suit. This has encouraged localities to redouble their efforts and creates new and exciting opportunities for intergovernmental partnerships to manage climate change.
John R. Nolon , Low Carbon Land Use: Paris, Pittsburgh, and the IPCC, Ark. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2018), https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/1098/