Matthew Luzincourt ’21; Emma Locke ’21; Leah Barazani ’21; Gracia Seeley ’21; Madeline Unger ’21
Majors: Environmental Studies; Environmental Studies; Organismal Biology & Ecology; Environmental Studies; Environmental Studies
Faculty Collaborator: Corina McKendry, Environmental Studies
In response to a growing body of research which suggests that actions of subnational governments serve a central role in mitigating climate change, this project evaluates city and state government action on climate change in the Rocky Mountain West region. We studied the policies and actions of eight states, and the three largest cities within each of these states, in order to understand the ways in which subnational governments are acting upon issues of greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, transportation, building standards, and climate justice. We created specific indicators for each of these five categories in order to evaluate and quantify city and state action. Some significant patterns emerged between our 23 focus cities. We found that cities tend to take action within city operations before mandating community-wide changes, particularly in the building and renewable energy sectors. In addition, we found that a larger population size (r=.58) and a more liberal political leaning (r=-0.61) were correlated with higher overall scores within cities. Overall, cities have not adequately addressed a need for robust climate action in the Rocky Mountain West region. States appear to be doing better than cities in their actions on climate change, with all states meeting over 50% of the indicators for state governments. The scores between states and the cities within them were not strongly correlated, suggesting that cities are not necessarily bound by or responsive to their state’s policy agenda. While cities and states in the Rocky Mountain West have taken commendable actions to mitigate the effects of climate change, there is a need for more ambitious actions on the part of these governments to combat their contributions to climate change.