The Inflation Reduction Act will come alive at the local level. U.S. mayors have long been climate leaders – now they can unlock unprecedented federal support to drive inclusive economic growth while addressing the climate crisis.
Research from C40 found that city-led climate action could create 38 million green jobs this decade. The Inflation Reduction Act will help spur the creation of these jobs by providing more than $370 billion in critical funding to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy and incentivizing high-impact actions that reduce emissions, improve public health, and create more livable, resilient, and equitable communities.
The C40 & Climate Mayors guide “Climate Action and the Inflation Reduction Act: A Guide for Local Government Leaders” provides critical guidance for mayors, city staff, and local leaders to help ensure every dollar available through the Inflation Reduction Act can be put to use in building more resilient and sustainable communities. The guidebook shows cities what the funding is available for and how it can be accessed, from actions to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions; mitigate air pollution; advance neighborhood access and equity; promote community forestry; build more affordable, sustainable housing; advance low-carbon transportation; and much more. The guidebook equips local governments with the information they need to deploy funding once it becomes available and make a down payment on transformative and equitable climate action.
The guidebook underscores the key actions cities can take to maximize the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act for their communities:
- APPLY for funding that is directly available to local governments.
- SUPPORT & PARTNER with frontline communities and community-based organizations to secure resources.
- ASSIST businesses and individuals to access new tax credits.
- ENGAGE & COORDINATE with states, tribes, utilities, and ports.
- PROTECT against detrimental impacts of new or continuing fossil-fuel facilities.
When it comes to climate change, the livelihoods, health, and safety of communities across the U.S. are at stake. The contents of the guidebook will help to ensure swift, bold, and equitable climate action in cities across America.
The Inflation Reduction Act unleashes major investments in an inclusive economy and workforce. The guidebook outlines the opportunities for cities to ensure no one – including workers from the coal and oil industries – is left behind as we move to a clean energy economy. By incentivizing clean energy projects that pay livable wages and meet apprenticeship requirements, cities can ensure that new clean energy jobs are good jobs. Where these programs are not yet in place, local governments can catalyze engagement with business, labor, higher education, and community partners to establish or expand training opportunities to become registered apprenticeship programs.
Disadvantaged communities and communities of color have historically borne the brunt of the climate crisis in cities. The guidebook emphasizes that climate action taken under the Inflation Reduction Act must be just, equitable, and address the needs and values of the communities most affected. To support centering environmental justice across IRA programs and funding, the guidebook details environmental justice provisions in the law and illustrates the role of local government in supporting community partners with a focus on issues like air pollution, neighborhood access, affordable and energy efficient housing, and urban community forestry. Mayors and city leaders must work strategically with local and tribal organizations to advance environmental justice and uplift low-income and communities of color as we maximize progress and community resilience.
The IRA will come to life at the local level. As always, the work will look different in each city depending on their unique context and priorities: some may focus on electric vehicle (EV) readiness, while others will lean into financing strategies for community solar projects, public education and marketing campaigns to encourage homeowners to take advantage of tax credits for home energy efficiency, and beyond. While climate action will differ, all cities must engage and support environmental justice organizations, invest in the communities that need it most, advance workforce and economic inclusion, foster healthy public-private partnerships, and collaborate across boundaries with neighboring jurisdictions, tribes, and states.
As we get to work with our cities on implementation, we will create opportunities through the C40 and Climate Mayors partnership, by bringing mayors together to learn from one another and join our voices in collective action. While this moment is significant, we know that it is also insufficient given the scale of the climate crisis. Our work is to successfully deliver the IRA in a way that ensures it is just the starting point for ongoing federal investments to support local climate action.
Kate Wright is the Executive Director of Climate Mayors. Kate is responsible for strategic direction of the network, including helping cities implement bold policies and programs, supporting equitable climate action by the Federal Administration and Congress, and building initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while advancing economic growth and environmental justice. Prior to joining Climate Mayors, Kate served as CEO of CivicWell (formerly the Local Government Commission), where she worked with city and county leaders for fifteen years spearheading environmental initiatives on climate resilience, clean mobility, sustainable water management, livable communities, renewable energy, and affordable housing.
Kate Johnson serves as the Head of US Federal Affairs at C40 Cities. In this role she works with C40 member cities and partners to advance US federal policy that supports cities in achieving their climate goals and support C40’s overall engagement with partners in Washington DC. Prior to joining C40, Kate served for eight years at the Washington D.C. Department of Energy and Environment where she led an interdisciplinary team charged with achieving D.C.s goal to be carbon neutral and climate resilient.