Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis

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If our planet is going to survive the climate crisis, we need to act rapidly.

Taking cues from progressive cities around the world, including Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Oslo, Shenzhen, and Sydney, this book is a summons to every city to make small but significant changes that can drastically reduce our carbon footprint. We cannot wait for national governments to agree on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage the average temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees. In Solved, David Miller argues that cities are taking action on climate change because they can – and because they must. Miller makes a clear-eyed and compelling case that, if replicated at pace and scale, the actions of leading global cities point the way to creating a more sustainable planet.

Solved: How the World’s Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis demonstrates that the initiatives cities have taken to control the climate crisis can make a real difference in reducing global emissions if implemented worldwide. By chronicling the stories of how cities have taken action to meet and exceed emissions targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, Miller empowers readers to fix the climate crisis. As much a “how to” guide for policymakers as a work for concerned citizens, Solved aims to inspire hope through its clear and factual analysis of what can be done – now, today – to mitigate our harmful emissions and pave the way to a 1.5-degree world.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Bill McKibben


1. Plans

2. Energy and Electricity

3. Existing Buildings

4. New Buildings

5. Public Transportation

6. Personal and Other Transportation

7. Waste

Epilogue by Anne Hidalgo Afterword


Author the Author David Miller

David Miller is the Director of International Diplomacy and Global Ambassador of Inclusive Climate Action at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. He is responsible for supporting nearly 100 mayors of the world’s largest cities in their climate leadership and building a global movement for socially equitable action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He served as Chair of C40 Cities from 2008 until 2010.

Miller was Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010. Under his leadership, Toronto became widely admired internationally for its environmental leadership, economic strength, and social integration. He is a leading advocate for the creation of sustainable urban economies and a strong and forceful champion for the next generation of jobs through sustainability. Miller has held a variety of public and private positions and served as Future of Cities Global Fellow at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University from 2011 to 2014.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 Plans

“With flames on our hillsides and floods in our streets, cities cannot wait another moment to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got. L.A. is leading the charge, with a clear vision for protecting the environment and making our economy work for everyone.”

With these words, Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled Los Angeles’s Green New Deal on April 28, 2019, a substantial augmentation of the city’s 2015 Sustainable City Plan, reflecting current research that shows the need for more aggressive action to address the climate crisis.

From phasing out Styrofoam and single-use plastics to requiring buildings to become emissions free to saving an anticipated 16 billion dollars in health care expenses every year by 2050, L.A.’s ambitious blueprint demonstrates how clear-sighted and equitable planning is allowing cities to drive the climate agenda forward, far more effectively than any other order of government.

Los Angeles. Hollywood. Beaches. The Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Rolling hills. Traffic. And … smog.

To those who grew up in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, that’s the enduring image of Los Angeles – traffic, and smog, beneath the larger-than-life Hollywood sign. Los Angeles sits in a bowl surrounded by a series of beautiful hills and mountains. It’s a heavily industrial city, and of course one with significant traffic challenges. According to reports, the air quality was so bad during and after the Second World War that consideration was given to moving the airport so pilots could see; car drivers were forced to pull over because their eyes stung so badly they couldn’t drive; and when people blew their noses, the mucus was black. On June 26, 1943, a wave of smog hit Los Angeles that was so severe that people could not see more than three blocks. Striking in midsummer, it left residents with serious stinging and burning sensations in their eyes and throats.

Frequent incidents like this led to a public reaction from local government – and eventually the state. Research work started by the County of Los Angeles, along with intense public interest, led within a few years to California legislation that permitted cities and counties to establish air-quality districts with significant powers to address the myriad causes of the disastrously dirty air – industry, backyard incineration, traffic – and many others. The City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County created Air Quality Districts (now subsumed into the South Coast Air Quality Management District). At the time this was not easy politically; industry was bitterly opposed. Some in industry argued, for example, that the smog was caused naturally by ocean breezes bringing ozone to the city, kept in by the hills and mountains that surround Los Angeles. These theories were quickly disproven by science, which showed that an array of sources – industry, traffic, natural forces, actions by individual households – all contributed to the terrible air. This knowledge boosted a strong public campaign that led to virtually unanimous passage of the necessary legislation by the state in 1947.

These efforts were followed over time by a wide variety of measures to address air-quality challenges. While air quality even today is not pristine, it is vastly better than seventy years ago, when the issue was first addressed by local and state governments. The efforts have left legacies beyond environmental improvement – for example, the knowledge that collective action to address an environmental challenge is both possible and successful. But it needs collective will – and a plan. Action to stop air pollution in southern California has shown residents and elected officials what is possible. On air. On water. And now, on climate.

Committed City Leadership

During an extraordinary two weeks in late April 2019, Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver all launched climate plans whose ambition matched the requirements of science – to peak emissions by 2020 toward carbon neutrality by 2050. In content, these plans were about much more than just climate mitigation: both New York and Los Angeles named their plans Green New Deals in recognition that climate change is inherently unjust and that issues of equity and inclusion must be addressed by the plan if it is to succeed. Vancouver’s plan was in response to a declaration of a climate emergency by its city council. Each addressed emissions from energy, buildings, transportation, and waste – and each also addressed the fundamental inequity involved in climate change – caused by the wealthy few, its impacts first are felt by the poorest in a city, then globally. Each of these bold plans sought to ensure that the least well off in their communities would benefit from the efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Aevo UTP (October 1, 2020)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1487506821
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487506827
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 13.8 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.75 x 0.75 x 8.75 inches

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