By Matt Bogoshian, Chief Strategy Officer & General Counsel, REV

When I saw the title of Dan Kreeger’s article last week called “Easy Steps to Turbo Boost Climate Action In Local Government“, I thought to myself, “Easy? no way!”

As it turns out, the article was well done and I recommend reading it.  The problem was not the substance of his piece; it was that the title is way off…. “easy” work this is not!

After working in and with local, state and federal governments for many years myself, I can say one thing is for sure; making change happen in any municipal government or within cities themselves is rarely “easy.” When it does happen, the secret sauce to productive change is almost always leadership.

If we want bottom up leadership within cities, we need to arm city leaders with facts and tools presented in a way that empowers them to lead. We need to provide leaders with the means to persuade stakeholders in and outside their organizations to see that sustainability action is an imperative, saving scarce public resources while advancing the triple bottom line for their citizens and the businesses and organizations within their cities.

8 Talking PointsSo here is a my submission of 8 Talking Points that can help city leaders apply bottom-up sustainability action right now. While many city leaders have already begun the journey toward better and faster results, some still have not. Regardless of which side of the spectrum you and your city leaders fall, everyone can get started on Monday morning leading progress using these eight messages:

  1. The world needs demonstrated American leadership to solve intractable problems and Cities are where most of the work gets done.
  1. Global warming is an intractable problem recognized at all levels of government and science.
  1. Top-down global warming policy is too slow to rely on alone to avoid the worst affects of global warming and climate change by 2050. We, as city leaders, cannot wait for others to protect and prepare our constituents from the damage already done and the damage that will occur if we take no action.
  1. Being more sustainable means figuring out how to innovate to save taxpayer money while helping existing and new organizations within our communities do the same to produce a better triple bottom line.
  1. Bottom-up practices by cities like ours demonstrate not only smart government, they also show how organizations and businesses can make faster progress by wisely applying efficiency to achieve more profit and better employment outcomes for all.
  1. We can use existing tools and tactics already created for cities and constituent organizations to move forward.  For example, in California the non-profit Institute of Local Government already has a well-respected standard called Beacon with tools and partners that can help cities like ours get started right now!
  1. Those that think applied sustainability comes at a cost might just be thinking about the way things used to be or making excuses for a lack of innovation. Our city is an innovator and at the forefront of progress.
  1. Since one of America’s best attributes is our ability to innovate, there are no excuses any longer. Let’s innovate now!

I’d love to get your feedback on these 8 talking points for city leaders. What else should be on the list?

Lastly, this New York Times article, Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change, is a useful source to back up some of these messages.