Local governments have significant potential to alter the business-as-usual approach that has contributed to the problem of climate change. Municipalities contribute emissions through a wide range of activities, including motor vehicles (police cars, fire trucks, garbage trucks, etc.), government buildings, landfills, and sewage treatment plants. Local governments can play a central role in reducing emissions and incorporating environmental sustainability into daily life. There are numerous local strategies that municipalities can pursue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include:
- Energy efficient buildings - By encouraging construction or retrofitting of energy efficient buildings, municipalities can reduce energy consumption and waste. Local transportation initiatives - Towns can promote alternatives to standard automobile use, such as riding the bus, carpooling, and biking.
- Recycling initiatives - By implementing a vibrant recycling program, municipalities can reduce GHG emissions while conserving valuable landfill space.
- Urban forestry - Maintaining healthy forests and planting trees tempers climate change because plants act as sponges for CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Renewable energy programs - Credits and subsidies are available for a wide range of renewable energy projects, such as wind, solar, and geothermal.
In addition to the above individual actions, there are several collective initiatives that have been created to facilitate national and global cooperation among municipalities. These initiatives allow coordination of local grassroots activities at the lowest level of government. Two of the most prominent collective initiatives are the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. For this information and additional local government strategies, see Michael B. Gerrard's Global Climate Change and U.S. Law