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Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Climate Smart Communities

Local Action to Combat Climate Change

white image of person with arms up and open on blue background with NYS Climate Smart Communities text around it
The Climate Smart Communities
logo identifies member communities
and Climate Smart Communities

Climate Smart Communities is an unprecedented state-local partnership to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges that climate change poses for New York's local governments.

Local governments are the closest protectors of public health and safety and the first line of response in emergencies. They operate critical infrastructure and provide vital services.

So it's natural that people look to their local governments to confront climate change -- while continuing to conserve taxpayer dollars and advance other community priorities. The Climate Smart Communities program supports local governments and communities as they work to balance these goals.

Benefits for Climate Smart Communities

Towns, villages, cities and counties that join Climate Smart Communities benefit by:

Enjoying statewide recognition for their climate leadership and successful actions.

Saving taxpayer dollars through lower operating costs, improved efficiency and resource-conserving land use policies.

Receiving notification when state or federal assistance becomes available (plus advantaged access to some state programs).

Participating in a network of governments working to achieve climate smart practices and policies.

Improving facility operations and infrastructure to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also clean up local air pollution.

Increasing energy independence and security against price volatility and supply shortages.

Positioning for economic growth as energy savings and "green" businesses support local jobs and economic recovery.

Joining Climate Smart Communities

Any town, city, village or county can join Climate Smart Communities, without cost--just pass a resolution adopting the CSC Pledge and submit a certified copy to DEC. Adopt the Climate Smart Communities Pledge includes a model pledge and details on how to join. The ten elements of the pledge are as follows:

  1. Pledge to Combat Climate Change by Becoming a Climate Smart Community
  2. Set Goals, Inventory Emissions, Move to Action
  3. Decrease Energy Demand for Local Government Operations
  4. Encourage Renewable Energy for Local Government Operations
  5. Realize Benefits of Recycling and Other Climate Smart Solid Waste Management Practices
  6. Promote Climate Protection Through Community Land Use Tools
  7. Plan for Adaptation to Unavoidable Climate Change
  8. Support a Green Innovation Economy
  9. Inform and Inspire the Public Commit to an Evolving Process
  10. Commit to an Evolving Process

Climate Smart Communities Program Services

To help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase community resiliency to climate change, the program provides community coordinators, a listserv, webinars and a local action guide.

Climate Smart Community Coordinators

Dedicated personnel working to help communities access information, expertise and funding. With the CSC pledge as a roadmap, the coordinators will inspire and empower local governments by connecting them with appropriate financial and technical programs, helping them to coordinate with and learn from other communities, offering practical assistance and helping communities to track and report successes and barriers.

Climate Smart Communities Listserv

Sign up for alerts about funding, educational and networking opportunities for local governments. Click on the hyperlink and enter your e-mail address. Complete the "New Subscriber" page and on the "Quick Subscription" page scroll to the "Climate Change" category and check the box "Climate Smart Communities Program."

Climate Smart Communities Webinar Series

Experts and other CSCs share ideas and experiences.

Thank you to the speakers and attendees at our April 10, 2014 webinar: Urban Agriculture. The PowerPoint presentation and audio recording are available on our Climate Smart Webinar Presentations page.

Upcoming Webinar - Sustainable Municipal Fleet Management
Thursday, May 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. - Noon

Details to follow.

Climate Smart Communities Guide to Local Action

Two types of actions enable Climate Smart Communities to minimize the risks of climate change and reduce its long-term costs:

  1. Reducing GHG Emissions: Starting now to reduce GHG emissions and create permanent sinks that remove GHG from the atmosphere; these actions will help stabilize atmospheric GHGs at manageable levels and avoid severe climatic changes.

  2. Adapting to a Changing Climate: Altering the built and natural environment in anticipation of predicted climatic changes, or in response to actual changes, which will alleviate the risks associated with unavoidable changes in climate.

Many municipalities begin by reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience in municipal operations alone, but action by the entire community is needed to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and to successfully adapt to unavoidable climate change. Local governments can act directly to reduce fossil fuel consumption in municipal buildings and vehicles, to improve solid waste management practices and to adapt infrastructure and operations for resilience to anticipated changes as the climate warms. Flooding and changes in precipitation and snow pack that may affect water supplies are of special concern to localities.

To help the broader community act, local governments can enable climate-smart practices through land use plans, zoning and building codes and efficient transportation policies. A key local government role is leading, educating and setting an example of energy efficiency and adaptation.

The Climate Smart Communities Guide to Local Action contains overviews of possible community actions, how-to's and case studies to help communities implement the CSC pledge.

The table of contents below links to guide sections now available; additional sections will be posted as they are developed.

  1. Pledge to Combat Climate Change by Becoming a Climate Smart Community - A public commitment to reduce GHG emissions and prepare for unavoidable climate change
  2. Set Goals, Inventory Emissions, Move to Action - Steps for communities as they assess their emissions and choose actions
  3. Decrease Energy Demand for Local Government Operations - Reducing greenhouse gases and taxpayer cost for electricity and fossil fuel
  4. Encourage Renewable Energy for Local Government Operations - To come
  5. Realize Benefits of Recycling and Other Climate Smart Solid Waste Management Practices
  6. Pledge item - To come
  7. Plan for Adaptation to Unavoidable Climate Change
  8. Renewable Energy for Climate Smart Communities

Pledge items 9 and 10 - Still to come

The Climate Smart Communities program is jointly sponsored by the following six New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation; Energy Research and Development Authority; Public Service Commission; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and the Department of Health.

More about Climate Smart Communities: