In the news

The world’s mayors today formed a broad new alliance to fight climate change, and the effort will be co-chaired by billionaire climate activist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His Compact of Mayors and the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors merged into a new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, representing more than 7,100 cities in 119 countries. A new Global Covenant of Mayors website is scheduled to launch in January 2017.


Cities are considered the key to successful climate adaptation. Not only do they produce the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions and house the majority of the world’s population, but they often find themselves on the front line of climate risks and are relatively nimble in their policy responses.

Adaptation angle

Thousands of cities have embraced climate plans, pledging to cut carbon dioxide emissions and adopt resilience strategies. Yet many initiatives have failed, hampered by:

  • Poor coordination within city government and between city, regional and national governments.
  • Communication challenges with stakeholders.
  • Lack of private sector partnerships.
  • Poor funding.

Questions to ask

Here are a few questions to ask about your city’s climate planning:

  • What are the specific risks your city faces with regard to climate, such as extreme weather, sea-level rise or threats to infrastructure and public health? Where are the most vulnerable areas of the city? Who are the most at-risk populations?
  • What programs has your city enacted, either for climate adaptation or carbon emission reductions? For instance, has it enacted plans for green infrastructure, like green roofs, to reduce urban heat island effects, cleared drains to reduce flooding, or built sea walls or restored wetlands to combat sea-level rise?
  • Has your city put in place any disaster preparedness programs?
  • How will your city fund any of its planned climate action? (See our news backgrounder on covering public funding.)
  • Can your city’s climate adaptation and mitigation planning jump-start local economic development?
  • Are there any simple city-level operational changes that could be done through your city’s purchasing or transportation programs?
  • To what extent is sprawl and development a factor in climate decision-making for your city?
  • Does your community have centers of innovation to tap regarding climate issues? What local expertise is available to move adaptation plans forward, such as local universities, think tanks or businesses?
  • What are other cities and towns in your state or region doing about climate adaptation? Could they be a model for your community?
  • How well has your city worked with state, regional or federal governments to develop and enact its plans?
  • Has your city signed on with the climate goals of either the Compact of Mayors or the Covenant of Mayors?

Reporting resources

Dig deeper on the city adaptation story using dozens of related resources in the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation database.

Know of other resources we should have in our database?

Share your resources here. And share your own stories, story angles and questions to ask.

Top photo: Michael Bloomberg by David Berkowitz. Creative Commons attribution license. No changes made.

A. Adam Glenn  


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