Chicago Journal of International Law


Spring 2007 was a heady time for climate advocates. The fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expressed an overwhelming scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is a serious problem. The US Supreme Court not only addressed climate change for the first time, but also found that the US Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") had abused its discretion in denying a petition asking it to regulate motor vehicle emissions . The UN Security Council also took an initial look at climate change, with a ranging debate over its security implications. Amid that furor, it is perhaps unsurprising that another important moment in climate regulation slipped by without nearly so much public attention. On May 15, 2007, Tulsa, Oklahoma became the 500th city to join the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. This coalition of mayors around the country began in 2005 under the leadership of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels on the day that the Kyoto Protocol came into force without the United States as a party. The effort has grown so substantially over the last two years that the US Conference of Mayors launched a climate protection center in February 2007. Tulsa's decision to join was notable not only because of the coalition hitting the 500 mark, but also because of its location at the center of the US energy industry. Urban leadership on climate change in the United States, however, began well before the federal government withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol. Many US cities and counties have played a crucial role in international coalitions of localities attempting to make progress on emissions. Portland, Oregon, for example, has long been at the forefront of these issues, including being the first US city to develop a carbon reduction plan back in 1993. Portland's 2001 Local Action Plan on Global Warming aimed to reduce its carbon emissions to 10 percent below its 1990 levels by 2010. [CONT]

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