Nashville, TENN. — Mayor John Cooper signed on to a Climate Mayors letter sent to U.S. Congressional leaders this week, urging bold action on environmental sustainability while also building a more just economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A network of 461 mayors committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement, the Climate Mayors are calling on Congress to invest in economic recovery strategies that embed resilience, equity, and sustainability in America’s cities.
“As mayor, I see first-hand the urgent issues facing our communities today: the ever-present threat of climate change, the challenges to public health and prosperity caused by COVID-19, and racial and economic disparities,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “Cities across America are demonstrating that growth and environmental stewardship go hand in hand – and now, our federal government can show the world that investment in a zero-carbon economy has multiple co-benefits for healthcare, housing, jobs, the economy, and the resilience of our infrastructure.”
With a focus on recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic, Climate Mayors are advocating a nationwide transition to a zero-carbon economy – a step many American cities are already pursuing as a means to create good-paying green jobs, clean the air and lower carbon emissions, improve public health and resilience to climate change, and lift up the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit communities of color and low-income households particularly hard — the same individuals and families in neighborhoods that suffer most from the harsh impacts of a changing climate: toxic pollution, skyrocketing temperatures, drought and wildfires, and extreme weather events like floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Climate Mayors are determined to build a strong, green economy that ensures all Americans are prepared for future health, economic, and environmental shocks
Recognizing the need to work together at every level of government to move beyond this devastating pandemic, Mayor Cooper and other Climate Mayors are urging Congress to work with state and city leadership to build new policies and amplify existing programs that have already proven effective. They list several goals for Congress to prioritize with any economic recovery package, including:
- Build for a Better Future: Returning to the status quo is insufficient to meet the challenges of climate change and economic disparities in our communities. We must increase resolve and ambition to reinvest in municipalities.
- Lead with Equity: Federal investment should include some level of priority for communities that have been historically underserved, including those disproportionately impacted by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Prioritize Multiple Benefits: The best investments will also have benefits for job creation, neighborhood resilience, and better public health outcomes in cities.
Attached to the letter is an appendix with sample policies and programs to advance a just, resilient recovery that puts Americans back to work while creating cleaner, healthier, more livable communities. These recommendations are accompanied by success stories from Climate Mayors’ member cities where similar policies and programs have led to community benefit.
Locally, Mayor Cooper’s Sustainability Advisory Committee is working with his administration to produce recommended strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation that similarly infuse resilience, equity, and other benefits such as public health and neighborhood livability into Metro Nashville’s sustainability related policies and programs.
A full version of the letter can be here.