Three Climate Mayors Reach the End of their Terms and Leave Behind Climate Legacies

Three members of the Climate Mayors’ Steering Committee will soon conclude their terms as city mayors. Yet, their leadership in climate action leaves behind unforgettable legacies.

Several leaders of Climate Mayors will be concluding their terms as mayors and stepping down from their positions within the steering committee. Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Steve Adler of Austin, and Greg Fischer of Louisville have dutifully served their communities as champions for local climate action and progressive policy making. With Climate Mayors’ own co-founder Mayor Garcetti, and others leaving office it seemed timely to take a look back on all the considerable impacts these mayors have made on our climate and their local communities.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has held office since 2013 and in the following year he co-founded Climate Mayors alongside former Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia and former Mayor Parker of Houston. Since then, the bipartisan organization founded to build political will for federal and global climate action has welcomed almost 500 mayors into its fold. In addition to being Chair of Climate Mayors from 2014-2020, he also served as Chair of C40 Cities – a global city-led organization in the fight against climate change – from 2019-2021. 

In addition to his national leadership in building political momentum for climate action, Mayor Garcetti holds an impressive track record for environmental wins in LA. Below is just a sampling of the positive change created during his term:

  • Launched Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, an ambitious update to​ the city’s first-ever Sustainable City Plan from 2015. It aims to secure clean air and water and a stable climate, improve community resilience, expand access to healthy food and open space, and promote justice for all
  • Established first in the nation Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO) to foster collaboration with policymakers and community leaders to create opportunities to improve sustainability and resilience at L.A.’s most burdened communities.
  • As of 2018, LA had the most solar power installed out of any city in the US and was named the #1 Solar City in America in 8 of the last 9 years
  • LA became the first city in the U.S. to launch an electric car share program designed to serve low-income residents in 2017
  • Invested $150 million into two LADWP programs targeting low-income multifamily energy efficiency and building electrification, including free upgrades for renters
  • Installed the most publicly available and commercial electric vehicle chargers of any city in the nation
  • As of 2020, LA’s GHG emissions are down 36%. In 2016 alone, L.A. reduced its city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 11%, equivalent to taking 737,000 cars off the road
  • Created over 60,000 green jobs
  • Attracted $695 million in green investments and supported 340 startups as of June, 2022 through the LA Cleantech Incubator

“In the year 2100, when the human race looks back at the challenges this century brought us, I know they will be grateful for everything Mayor Garcetti and the City Council accomplished in this past decade on climate, and for everything we are going to accomplish next.” – Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz.

“We appreciate the leadership and partnership of the Mayor’s Office in championing innovative and equitable solutions to the health, climate, and environmental justice threats our communities face. The establishment of the first-in-the-nation Climate Emergency Mobilization Office is a lasting legacy that will center frontline, indigenous and vulnerable communities in policy design, and will ensure that the benefits of a just transition will be shared by all.”

– Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Mayor Steve Adler has held office in Austin since 2015 and will term out of office in January 2023. On the national stage, Mayor Adler has served on the Climate Mayors steering committee since 2019 and has been a member of C40 Cities since 2006. Climate leadership on this stage – from a Texas mayor – exemplified how climate progress can even take shape in states historically tied with fossil fuel production and consumption.

During his time in office, Mayor Adler has been a progressive force for climate action in the red state of Texas. Below are some examples of transformative work at the local level:

  • Project Connect is a new light rail and bus network designed to connect neighborhoods around Austin. It aims to improve access to daily needs like jobs, healthcare, and education. By reducing people’s reliance on cars, the project also aims to play a role in tackling Austin’s carbon footprint and helping the City of Austin reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2040
  • A 400-mile All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network is being built throughout the city to help Austin achieve its mode-shift goals. Late last year, 215 miles — over 50% — of the network had been completed.
  • In 2021, the revised and updated Austin Climate Equity Plan was adopted by Council. Austin’s original climate plan was adopted by the City Council in 2015, with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and the intention of updating the plan every 5 years. The revised plan accelerates Austin’s goal to become a Net Zero city by ten years – from 2040 to 2050.
  • Created new green jobs with an equity lens through the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps
  • The Community Climate Ambassadors Program recruits individuals to host community conversations and lead projects with historically underrepresented groups about climate change, racial equity, and sustainability
  • The Austin Youth Climate Equity Council empowers Austin’s next generation of climate champions with the tools to engage in community issues around climate change, environmental policy, and environmental justice
  • Awarded 493 Bright Green Future Grants to Austin area schools for sustainability-focused projects and education. 70% of all Title 1 schools in Austin have received funding, which includes schools with higher numbers of students from low-income families
  • Adopted the 2021 Residential International Energy Code which, will save energy and GHG emissions, and remove mandatory natural gas hookups for residential homes

“The most important lesson learned here is that we will never come close to overcoming climate change without centering racial equity and community leadership.” Shane Johnson, Sierra Club, Austin Office of Sustainability Steering Committee Tri-Chair

“It is not the power of one but the power of many perspectives, communities, and knowledge to shift the direction of climate impacts.” – Shaun Auckland, SPEER , Austin Office of Sustainability Advisory Group Member

Mayor Greg Fischer has held office in Louisville, Kentucky for over a decade, beginning in 2011 and closing out in January of 2023. Fischer has been active on the national and global level as a champion for climate action through service on the Climate Mayors steering committee and participation in Global Covenant of Mayors. Mayor Fischer also signed the We’re Still In letter, committing Louisville to pursue the requirements outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, regardless of national leadership decisions. His keen awareness of the ramifications that city emissions have on the national and global environment turbocharged actions taken at the local level.

During his terms, clean energy and resilience were top of mind as showcased in the achievements here:

  • Mayor Greg Fischer created the Office of Sustainability in 2012 and tasked the office with drafting the city’s first-ever sustainability plan, Sustain Louisville
  • Adoption of the original Sustain Louisville Plan in March 2013
  • In 2022, Mayor Fischer signed an executive order committing Louisville to the science-based target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions community-wide by 2040. The order was an update to prior set goals of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions community-wide by 2050, and helps Louisville meet its commitment under the Cities Race to Zero. Following this Executive Order, Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution reaffirming the same goal, building on a previous resolution for 100% renewable electricity for Metro operations by 2030, 100% clean energy for Metro operations by 2035, and 100% clean energy community-wide by 2040
  • Since 2016, Louisville Metro has leveraged over $15 million in private capital toward energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through its Energy Project Assessment District (EPAD) Program, a financing mechanism that allows non-residential property owners to repay private loans for energy improvement projects.
  • In September 2019, Mayor Fischer declared a Climate Emergency at a youth-led climate strike to recognize the urgency to halt, reverse, mitigate, and prepare for the consequences of climate change and restore the climate for future generations. Hundreds of Louisville students, parents, concerned citizens, and politicians joined cities around the world in a day of global protest to demand action on climate change.
  • On April 4, 2022, Louisville Metro was accepted into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) pilot which provides technical assistance to cities to develop sustainability programs that benefit environmental justice communities. 
  • The Solar Over Louisville campaign was launched in June 2022. The plan encourages residents to install solar panels and simplifies the process of doing so
  • Louisville received the distinction of being one of less than 100 cities around the world to make CDP’s annual A List in 2021 and 2022. The global environmental nonprofit’s list recognizes major progress in climate action and transparency.

“As Louisville Metro Government’s leading Community Partner in the sustainability space, the Louisville Sustainability Council is honored to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Mayor Fischer over the years. Mayor Fischer has greatly contributed to helping our city dream and achieve significant sustainability milestones. We will deeply miss Mayor Fischer’s energy, passion, and support for climate mitigation and education.” – Julia Murray, Executive Director, Louisville Sustainability Council

The Climate Mayors organization thanks Mayors Garcetti, Adler, and Fischer for their commitment to maintaining focus on one of the most pressing issues of our lives. They  challenged the organization and their cities to reach new heights in promoting climate justice, equity and sustainability for all. “It has been an honor to work alongside these mayors. Their dedication to climate resilience, emissions reduction, environmental justice, and community prosperity has produced positive impacts that will be felt for generations to come,” said Kate Wright, Climate Mayors’ Executive Director. “Their climate leadership will serve as a guiding light to their successors and we aim to continue to make bold and inspired climate action in Los Angeles, Austin, and Louisville going forward.”


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​​Climate Mayors Welcomes its 2023 Mayoral Leadership Team

Climate Mayors closes out the year by welcoming a new leadership team to head into a major year for climate action and progress in U.S. cities.

Climate Mayors announced their new leadership team on December 14, 2022, highlighting several mayors who will be carrying the torch as the new leaders of the climate action organization. With Mayor Turner of Houston stepping down as his term nears its end, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison will serve as the 2023 Chair. She will lead alongside Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix who has held her Vice-Chair position since 2021 and new incoming Vice-Chair, Mayor Justin Bibb of Cleveland. These three mayors have been exemplary models for citywide attention to the climate crisis, public health and environmental justice and are poised to continue this leadership in the year ahead.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has held office in Madison, Wisconsin since 2019 and began her term by making history as the first openly LGBTQ person to hold the position. She has been a member of the Climate Mayors Steering Committee since 2020 and served as Vice-Chair in 2021 and 2022. We’re proud to announce her transition to Chair of Climate Mayors. Her leadership on climate action in Madison showcases her dedication to protecting people and the planet. The Mayor has prioritized climate action in numerous ways such as investing in energy retrofits to affordable housing, advancing EV-charging infrastructure, and she is now breaking ground on a $160 million bus rapid transit system with all-electric buses. Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s actions show what’s possible with bold, ambitious climate leadership.

Madison has already achieved many climate wins, including investing in over 20 megawatts of rooftop and offsite solar energy, rapidly converting municipal fleets to electric and alternative fuels, and making major investments in Madison’s stormwater system to increase resilience to flooding, just to name a few. A priority for the Mayor for the upcoming year will be helping cities take full advantage of climate solutions in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

“I’m honored to serve as Climate Mayors Chair at this critical time for climate action in cities,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Cities have long been our climate leaders, and during my time as Climate Mayors Chair, I am eager to work with other Mayors, the federal government, and numerous partners to help ensure that the unprecedented federal investments in climate solutions reach U.S. cities and their residents.”

Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona has held office since 2019 and has served as the Climate Mayors Vice-Chair since 2020 and Vice-Chair of C40 Cities since 2021. In 2023, she will maintain her position as Vice-Chair alongside the new leadership team members. Mayor Gallego’s goal is to make Phoenix the most sustainable desert city on the planet. As the world continues to warm, that means boosting the city’s heat resiliency, implementing innovative ideas like cool pavement; managing water supplies in ways that encourage conservation; and advancing transit options like light rail while building infrastructure that supports electric vehicle adoption. She also put transparency and access first with the launch of a new environment and sustainability web portal in 2022 which provides residents with timely updates and access to environmental, sustainability, and climate programs.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Mayors Bibb and Rhodes-Conway toward our shared mission at Climate Mayors,” said Mayor Gallego. “Our leadership team will continue to put people first in the fight against climate change. Challenging ourselves and our cities to meet the unique needs of our local communities while driving progress forward in clean energy, adaptation and sustainable innovation.”

Mayor Justin Bibb has served as the first millennial mayor of Cleveland, Ohio since 2022 and is now a newly inducted member of the Climate Mayors leadership team as Vice-Chair. Climate justice and sustainability has been a key component of Mayor Bibb’s platform, since connecting with constituents about their lived health experiences related to climate change, such as asthma aggravated by increasing high heat days. In his first year as mayor, Bibb has included climate justice as a key component for all cabinet leader positions, as well as elevating it into a titled cabinet role – Director of Sustainability and Climate Justice. Thus embedding accountability, equity and just transition at the forefront of climate change solutions planned, coordinated and implemented by the city. Mayor Bibb identifies reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and moving toward solar, wind, and hydro power as a key driver of the city’s green economic outlook. 

The City of Cleveland has already set a goal of meeting 100% of the city’s overall electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2050, but is currently exploring a more aggressive timeline to achieve the vision of a clean and equitable energy future. Cleveland also offers tax abatements and grants for residential developments that meet Cleveland Green Building Standards, and is piloting a rooftop Solar Low-Moderate Income (LMI) program for up to 10 households.

Under Mayor Bibb’s leadership, the city will build upon and align past municipal level climate action planning with science-based climate targets and convene economic leadership in the greater metropolitan area to co-identify and co-plan clear next steps to pivot local and regional decarbonization commitments into action.

 “I’m honored to serve amongst seasoned Climate Mayors Gallego and Rhodes-Conway as Vice-Chair. Supporting the conditions for climate justice to thrive in Cleveland and in cities across America is a critical step toward creating an equitable tomorrow for all”, said Mayor Justin Bibb.

The Climate Mayors organization is proud to welcome these three exceptional mayors to its leadership team. There is no doubt that they will dutifully serve their cities and this organization by leading the charge in transitioning to clean energy, reducing city emissions, creating jobs, and uplifting environmental justice. “We’re thrilled to bring fresh energy and ideas to the Climate Mayors leadership team. The dynamic leadership of Mayors Rhodes-Conway, Bibb and Gallego will harness the power of U.S. cities to make an impact in meeting Paris Agreement targets and limiting global warming despite what’s going on at the federal level,” said Kate Wright, Climate Mayors’ Executive Director. “Building on the remarkable work accomplished by outgoing leadership, the new team will lead the way in making 2023 a year of robust and diverse climate achievements in cities.”



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Climate Mayors Celebrates Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Successful Leadership As Chair

As mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city and a strong advocate for climate action, Mayor Sylvester Turner ends his term as Chair of Climate Mayors with several significant accomplishments that helped to elevate the discussion on climate.

As mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city and a strong advocate for climate action, Mayor Sylvester Turner ends his term as Chair of Climate Mayors with several significant accomplishments that helped to elevate the discussion on climate. 

Since he was first elected mayor of Houston, Texas, in December 2015, Mayor Turner has focused on key initiatives to advance climate priorities in his city and to support the work of the Biden – Harris Administration. 

As Chair of Climate Mayors, Mayor Turner has led the organization through a year of remarkable progress at the federal level that built on the years of leadership at the local level to develop a clean energy economy. As the job of implementing federal climate policy turns to mayors and governors, Climate Mayors is grateful to have Mayor Turner continue to help lead the organization as he transitions to Chairman Emeritus. In addition to being Chair of Climate Mayors, Mayor Turner is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, Board Chairman of the Resilient Cities Network, and a member of C40 Cities.

“It’s been an honor to serve as Chair of Climate Mayors. Communities in Houston have been hit hard by extreme weather, and it has been mission critical to do our part in stopping and adapting to the climate crisis. We’ve been able to drive progress by making strategic investments in climate resilience, electrification of the transportation sector and renewable energy,” said Mayor Turner. “I know Climate Mayors will continue to be a leading force in facing the climate crisis and championing the health and prosperity of U.S. cities.”

As Mayor of Houston, Mayor Turner made the city more resilient, sustainable, and equitable over his two terms. Launched in 2020, the Resilient Houston strategy and Houston’s Climate Action Plan identify specific actions to rise above challenges, emphasizing the most vulnerable populations. Since then, Turner’s efforts have created new programs, projects, and policies that help Houston prepare, adapt, and recover from shocks and stresses like the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather, and systemic inequities. Mayor Turner undoubtedly positioned Houston as a leader in resilience and demonstrated the city’s commitment to build forward and build better, even in the face of economic and climate challenges.

Highlights of his climate leadership:

  • Launched Resilient Houston in February 2020 to provide a framework to protect Houston against future disasters – from hurricanes to extreme heat waves – and chronic stresses such as aging infrastructure, poor air quality, and flooding. Resilient Houston set 18 high-level targets, corresponding with the strategy’s 18 goals that will be used to measure the progress and impact of the city’s resilience work from now to 2050. Turner’s leadership helped the city deliver 3 of the 18 targets over the last 2 years and set the city up to continue making progress toward the goals.
  • Released Houston’s first Climate Action Plan in April of 2020 to meet the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, improve air quality, build climate resilience, and leverage Houston’s role as a leader of the global energy transition. In just two years, Turner led the city to complete 3 of the Climate Action Plan’s 12 targets and created a path to achieve all the targets in the years to come.
  • Negotiated a new retail electricity contract. As of July 2020, all of Houston’s municipal buildings are 100% powered by renewables, and the City purchases more renewables than any other city in the country.
  • Led the establishment and passage of a historic decarbonization policy for Houston’s buildings, recognizing that buildings in Houston are responsible for 40% of both municipal and city-wide emissions. By implementing the decarbonization policy, Houston is estimated to prevent over 40% of the City’s direct and indirect emissions by 2030 and produce unprecedented energy savings for building owners and occupants.
  • Released the “Living with Water” strategy in 2020, invested over 780 million in drainage infrastructure – with a focus on Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) – to adapt Houston to a changing climate, and created the GSI Tax Abatement program to encourage the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in private development.
  • Created the Complete Communities initiative to revitalize and improve Houston’s most under-served neighborhoods by partnering with local stakeholders to leverage resources to create a more equitable and prosperous city for all Houstonians.
  • Worked with the City Council to purchase nearly 100 battery electric vehicles to replace the City of Houston’s current aging fleet of internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, furthering progress towards a goal of the Houston Climate Action Plan to convert all non-emergency, light-duty municipal vehicles to electric by 2030.
  • Developed the Sunnyside Landfill Solar Project as a shining example of collaboration with the energy industry and community residents. The project will transform a 240-acre former landfill that has sat dormant for more than 50 years into the largest urban solar farm in the U.S. The project addresses long-standing environmental justice challenges and revitalizes a historically underserved and under-resourced community as part of the energy transition, generating clean energy, and creating jobs and training opportunities in one of the fastest growing job markets today.
  • Founded the nonprofit Evolve Houston and partnered with it to establish an all-new Equity Program. As part of this program, the eMobility Microgrant Initiative awards microgrants to local electromobility projects that address community mobility needs and e-mobility access in the Greater Houston area.
  • Led by example and inspired Houston’s business community to join in the ambition to lead the global energy transition, fostering public-private partnerships, promoting energy innovation and attracting CleanTech incubators such as GreenTown Labs, and working with the private sector to scale up clean hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) developments.
  • In 2021, Mayor Turner traveled to Scotland, United Kingdom for the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, or COP 26. He joined world leaders and mayors from across the world,  met with National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and attended the Climate Breakfast with Mayors featuring Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.



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Climate Mayors Announces New Chair, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

At a virtual convening today, Climate Mayors announced new leadership to drive ambitious climate solutions at the local scale

December 14, 2022 — Today, at a virtual convening of the organization’s leadership and press, Climate Mayors announced that Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway will become the next Chair of the network of nearly 500 U.S. mayors across the country committed to climate leadership in their cities. In this role, Mayor Rhodes-Conway will help catalyze urgent action at the local scale to promote climate solutions, set an example of action for leaders at all levels of government, and support greener, safer and more resilient cities across the country. Also announced at the event were the incoming Vice-Chairs: Kate Gallego, Phoenix, AZ; and Justin Bibb, Cleveland, OH.

The 58th Mayor of Madison, Satya Rhodes-Conway was elected in 2019 as the city’s second female mayor and the first out LGBTQ person to serve as Mayor of Madison. In her time as Mayor, Rhodes-Conway has prioritized affordable housing, transportation, climate change and racial equity. She brings to the organization extensive experience in local policy, having worked with mayors across the country for over a decade and served three terms on the Madison Common Council. 

Under her leadership, Madison has invested in renewable energy consistent with goals for city facilities to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030. In addition, the city has invested in a $160 million all-electric bus rapid transit system that will improve mobility, lower transit emissions, take thousands of cars off the streets, and encourage sustainability in both new and existing affordable housing operations to lower bills for residents. The city is also working to rapidly transition streetlights to LED lights, retrofit affordable housing for efficiency and health, and build green infrastructure for stormwater management. On earth day in 2021, Mayor Rhodes Conway announced Climate Forward  – a plan to advance climate action in Madison, rapidly reduce emissions, make the city more resilient, and improve peoples’ lives. 

“I’m honored to serve as Climate Mayors chair at this critical time for climate action in cities,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Cities have long been our climate leaders, and during my time as Climate Mayors chair, I am eager to work with other Mayors, the federal government, and numerous partners to help ensure that the unprecedented federal investments in climate solutions reach U.S. cities and their residents.”

Mayor Rhodes Conway succeeds Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has been a long-standing climate champion for the City of Houston. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Turner launched Resilient Houston, worked at transitioning the Energy Capital of the World to a clean energy future, and increased the resilience of communities across the city by prioritizing health, job creation, equity, and sustainability. Turner also spearheaded the Houston Climate Action Plan — a science-based, community-driven strategy to make Houston’s transportation networks, building operations, and waste systems as clean and efficient as possible. Under Mayor Turner’s leadership, the City of Houston has committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy and is the largest municipal user of renewable energy in the nation. 

As incoming Vice-Chairs of the organization, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb will continue driving city-led climate action to create more sustainable, equitable, and healthy cities for all. Mayor Bibb has a keen focus on environmental justice and equitable access, while Mayor Gallego often takes aim at extreme heat and resilience in their respective cities. Under their leadership, Climate Mayors will continue to catalyze membership and deeply engage cities, while holding the frontline for climate action in the U.S.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Mayors Bibb and Rhodes-Conway toward our shared mission at Climate Mayors,” said Mayor Gallego. “Our leadership team will continue to put people first in the fight against climate change. Challenging ourselves and our cities to meet the unique needs of our local communities while driving progress forward in clean energy, adaptation and sustainable innovation.”

“I’m honored to serve amongst seasoned Climate Mayors Gallego and Rhodes-Conway as Vice-chair. Supporting the conditions for climate justice to thrive in Cleveland and in cities across America is a critical step toward creating an equitable tomorrow for all”, said Mayor Justin Bibb.

Read more about the leadership team here.



About Climate Mayors

Representing over 74 million Americans from 48 states, Climate Mayors is a peer-to-peer network of nearly 500 U.S. city mayors who have committed to fighting climate change. Originally founded in 2014 by 3 mayors, the network’s ranks swelled to almost 400 mayors in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in June 2017. Climate Mayors is committed to accelerating equitable climate action to help each member city achieve their climate goals, while working together city-to-city, with states, and the Biden administration to increase national climate ambition. For more information, please visit our website and follow Climate Mayors on Twitter and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries please contact CLIMATEMAYORS@FGSGLOBAL.COM