US Mayors V. Alberta Tar Sands

The big news from last week boycott fuel from the Alberta Tar sands. was the resolution passed by the US Conference of Mayors to Despite a blustery response from Albert's Finance Minister , the direct effect of the boycott will be slim to none. At the moment it is difficult if not impossible to trace refined fuel back to its source. And even if we could, the boycott itself only applies to fuels purhcasedto run minicipal vehicles -- a minute fraction of the fuel bought and burned in American cities.

Even if the boycott has more bark than bite, there is something interesting going. It is the first headline grabbing example of what could become a daily reality: carbon emissions as a costly liability for both producers and the larger economies that their industries support. The boycott is also the first time (to my knowledge) that mayors have banded together to call for action on an environmental issue targetting pollutants created - not just in another city or at a state or provinicial level - but in another country.

Suddenly what counts as a municipal enviromental resposiblity seems to have grown significantly. The boundaries of what is and isn't included when it comes to municipal greenhouse gas emissions are traditionally drawn quite narrowly. But the type of lifecycle analysis demanded by the US Mayor's resolution casts the net much wider. It both demands that Federal and State level governments pass guidelines to make this source-to-pump tracking of fuel possible, and shows their willingness to take responsiblity for the broader effects of fuel their cities consume. There seem to be many logical next-steps to this including, for example, aviation emission.

So the Mayors are willing to tangle with other levels of government and even other countries over environmental issues, and push past the limits of what is considered to be under municipal responsibility. That's good news. But as always nothing is quite perfect. Burried in the 280 page report of resolutions passed at the most recent US Mayors conference is another resolution. One that calls for increased funding to pay for airport expansions.


1 Response to "US Mayors V. Alberta Tar Sands"

Blogger said... 25 September 2016 at 13:47

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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

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