Metropolitan Washington has received global recognition as one of four regions in the United States leading the way on mitigating climate change.
The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), an international alliance of cities and local governments supported by the European Union’s (EU) International Urban Cooperation (IUC) Program and Bloomberg Philanthropies, named the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and its member governments a “Regional and Metro-Scale Climate Leader.”
“We are thrilled for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and its 24 municipalities to be among the first regions in the U.S. working on a joint Climate Action Plan in the framework of the Global Covenant of Mayors,” said Janna Schonfeld, Programs Officer Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, Delegation of the European Union to the United States. “The climate crisis requires decisive and collaborative actions—from regional to global cooperation—to address the biggest challenge of our time.”
COG’s Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee (CEEPC) celebrated this prestigious designation at its meeting held during Climate Week, with project supporters and advisors from the EU, IUC, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), and the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC). The region, represented by CEEPC, also became a GCoM signatory.
As a result, COG and its members will receive support and technical assistance from IUC and GCoM as they work together on the region’s 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan. This year-long process includes assessing the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate risks, and vulnerabilities, and what it would take to equitably achieve GHG emissions reduction goals through 2030.
CEEPC published the region’s first Climate and Energy Action Plan in 2010 to help work toward shared GHG emission reduction goals. As a new GCoM signatory, CEEPC’s 2030 plan will align the region with international best practices for climate planning and action.
“We have a responsibility to address climate change at all levels—locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally,” said Daniel Sze, COG Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee Chair and City of Falls Church Council Member. “Through regional collaboration, we’ve been working toward attaining our shared climate and energy goals over the last 10 years, and we’re proud to be doing our part for this critical, worldwide cause.”
According to a COG analysis, local actions contributed to a 10 percent decrease in emissions in metropolitan Washington between 2005 and 2015, despite continued population and economic growth during that period. However, there is much work to be done. The region is only halfway to its emissions reduction goal for 2020, with a longer-term goal of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Other points of progress:
- As of 2018, the region has more than 38,700 grid-connected solar and wind systems, surpassing the 30,000 anticipated by 2020.
- The region has 4,198 third-party certified—such as LEED or Energy Star—high performance green buildings, up from just 85 in 2005.
- Although the 123,826 electric vehicles in the region account for just 3 percent of vehicles on the road, there is great potential for growth. The number of charging stations supporting drivers of electric vehicles increased from 124 in 2012 to 852 so far in 2019, with 1,000 possible by 2020.
The other Regional and Metro-scale Climate Leader honorees include the Chicago, Denver, and Kansas City areas.