City Climate Action Plans Drive Small Business Opportunities

City Climate Action Plans Drive Small Business Opportunities

Three climate action plans being adopted by U.S. cities.


Cities across America are adopting climate action plans. A fear of more regulations and increased costs are often the first reaction by local businesses. But there is growing business experience that climate action is a business opportunity for cutting costs and winning customers.

The Link Between Making Money And Carbon Has Been Broken

2019 marked a milestone in business economics. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the U.S. has broken the link between making money and carbon emissions.

California was the first major economy to demonstrate that exceptional economic growth can be achieved while also cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. California has successfully grown its economy to the world’s fifth largest while at the same time slashing its per capita emissions by over 40%.

Now the United States has joined California in proving that going green is good business. In 2019 the United States decreased its emissions by 2% while at the same time setting a fifty year record in workforce employment plus record stock market highs.

Seeing this trend, half of America’s major cities  are now implementing climate action plans that seek to reduce environmental impacts while also growing their local economies.

Climate Action Plan Characteristics

Climate action plans being adopted by U.S. cities typically have these three key features:

1. A Path To Zero Emission Electricity.

Up until 2019, electricity has been the leading source of GHG emissions in the United States.

City climate plans typically have near term goals for reducing GHG emissions with a future goal for achieving zero emissions electricity. These plans often include financial or tax incentives for businesses investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy. They can also include changes in building codes that require increased energy efficiency or even mandates for renewable energy use.

2. Electric Vehicle Adoption.

In 2019 transportation became the largest source of GHG emissions in America.

City climate plans often have a heavy focus on promoting more fuel efficient transportation like mass transit and bicycle lanes. They also typically have a strong focus on vehicle electrification including plans for increasing vehicle charging station accessibility.

3. Reduction or Elimination Of Single Purpose Plastics.

Single plastic uses like plastic grocery bags, styrofoam cups and plastic forks are a hot button issue for millennials and GenZ consumers.

City climate plans are increasingly adding restrictions on single use plastic use. Today approximately 400 jurisdictions ban or tax single use plastics. 

The Business Opportunities In City Climate Action Plans

City climate action plans offer two key opportunities for business success.

The first is fairness. No food service or grocery store wants to lose customers by being the only business switching from single plastics to recyclable or compostable solutions. A city climate plan puts all businesses on the same competitive grounds so there is no competitive advantage gained by doing something harmful to the environment.

The second business opportunity comes from cities adopting the PACE program for helping businesses invest in building energy efficiency and renewable energy. In a PACE program a business can borrow money from a PACE financial institution with repayment and interest included in the property’s tax payment.

PACE financing advantages include:

  • Easier loan approval
  • No down payments, 100% financing
  • Loan can be sold along with the property
  • Flexible loan terms
  • Tax credits maybe available.
  • PACE financing can often result in more attractive ROI results on energy efficiency and clean technologies investments.

Electric vehicles are another business opportunity often enhanced through city climate action plans.

Today’s electric vehicles can have a higher sticker price but they still deliver a lower life of the vehicle cost through fuel savings and significantly reduced O&M costs.  Range anxiety is addressed in many city climate plans by significantly expanding charging station numbers and  geographic dispersion. These plans can open the door to a local business gaining the cost savings of using electric vehicles in providing urban customer service.

Going Green Builds Business

Going green has crossed an innovation and economies of scale threshold where they “cost less, mean more.”

Renewable energy is the least cost source of electricity and now accounts for half of all new power plants. Electric vehicles are on a path toward being superior on both performance and cost. And the growth in millennial and Z generation consumers is making going green a requirement for winning customers and growing product sales.

So plug into your city’s climate action plan to find how your business can make money by going green.

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