COVID & Climate: What’s Next for Cities?

Equitable city actions to address public health, economic recovery, and climate resiliency 

The Institute for Sustainable Energy (now the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability) and Innovation Network for Communities have published a series of three reports designed to provide community leaders (inside and outside of local government) with guidance about navigating their climate-action priorities through the gauntlet of challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.

Our research addresses key questions about the opportunities and risks for local climate action and assesses purposeful city actions that can benefit socially vulnerable populations who have experienced disproportionate harm from COVID-19 and climate change.

Major findings include opportunities for cities to build their post-pandemic recovery and emerge as more equitable, healthy, prosperous, and climate-resilient communities.

Report 1 | More Urgency, Not Less: The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Lessons for Local Climate Leadership

In the first report, four lessons for local leaders are revealed through analysis of reports, articles, and blogs on the COVID-19 linkage to climate change.

Report 2 | Climate of Crisis: How Cities Can Use Climate Action to Close the Equity Gap, Drive Economic Recovery, and Improve Public Health

The second report points to ways that cities can meet the challenges of accelerating climate action. A major focus of our analysis is the preexisting inequity in and access to essential services—including housing, affordable clean energy, transportation and mobility, and green space—and the connection to public health, climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. The BU Initiative on Cities also contributed to this report.

Report 3 | A Survey of North American City Climate Leaders: The Prospects for Climate Action in the COVID-19 Era

In the third and final report, we present the results of a survey of 25 U.S. and Canadian city climate leaders, conducted in July and August 2020, to assess the current priority of city climate action in the context of the pandemic. Six key findings emerged on city climate action, including the outlook for the next 18 months. The BU Initiative on Cities also contributed to this report.