Last November, the US Congress passed the historic US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which represents US$1.2 trillion in spending on infrastructure from ports to parks to electric vehicle instillation. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is unprecedented in size and scope, the IPCC report released in February 2022 underlined the fact that significantly more funding is needed to ensure a sustainable, resilient and equitable future. Yet, with these dire warnings, local governments are continuing to lead the charge on raising climate ambition and action.
To respond to the challenge of implementing climate infrastructure at scale, CDP’s Matchmaker analyzes pending municipal infrastructure projects critical to climate action and in need of funding. For over ten years, CDP has engaged hundreds of US cities on environmental disclosure to measure and manage GHG emissions, climate risks and emissions reduction targets, along with actions to protect their most vulnerable populations.
The following snapshot is a representative sample of infrastructure data and provides critical insight into the kinds of projects US cities are seeking to advance for climate action, key areas for public and private investment, regional needs and disparities and opportunities for aggregation. This analysis builds on the prior CDP Matchmaker snapshot which looked at regional trends.
This snapshot presents an analysis from the 192 US cities who disclosed to CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021. These cities represent roughly 25% of the US population with 81 million Americans living in them. Ranging from water infrastructure to flood prevention, reforestation and clean energy, 108 US cities reported 319 sustainable infrastructure projects seeking funding.
For more information about data collected, please view CDP's city disclosure guidance.
Cities in California reported the most number of projects seeking funding, with 83 projects, followed by Florida, Texas and Massachusetts. In 2021, the top three reported project types in the US were buildings energy and efficiency projects followed by transportation and resilience-related projects.
Of the 319 total projects, 188 were reported alongside individual project costs – which in total were valued at US29.6 billion. The average project cost was US$157 million and the median cost was US$2 million. All of these estimates are from the self-disclosed responses to CDP-ICLEI Track in 2021. To read individual disclosures from local governments, click here.
However, our analysis finds that this is a significant under-estimate, as the scale of funding needed by US cities is significantly greater for infrastructure. The 2021 American Society of Civil Engineers’ 'Report Card for America’s Infrastructure' notes that the total investment gap has gone from US$2.1 trillion to nearly US$2.59 trillion over the last 10 years for US infrastructure.
Decarbonizing the building sector is crucial to mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationwide. Nearly 125 million homes and 5 million commercial buildings across the US are responsible for about 40% of US energy use, amounting to approximately one-third of the nation’s GHG emissions. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is committing US$6.5 billion in energy efficiency and weatherization improvements, intended not only to reduce energy costs for American communities, but also to improve public health and access in disproportionately impacted communities.
In their 2021 disclosures, local governments in the US reported taking significant steps toward emissions reductions by moving away from fossil fuels. Actions on energy efficiency included enhancing building codes and employing innovative financing tools to improve accessibility for all residents and minimize upfront costs.
In 2021, 56 local governments disclosed 84 projects seeking funding related to buildings and energy efficiency, comprising nearly 30% of reported projects, which are collectively valued at US$2.2 billion.
Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, accounting for approximately 28% of national GHG emissions and making it a priority sector for local governments looking to cut community-wide emissions. Of the US$284 billion the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) commits to national transportation infrastructure, US$91.2 billion is allotted to repair and modernize public transit and US$7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging, as well as investments toward electric school buses, transit buses and passenger ferries, with a focus to reduce emissions in disproportionally impacted communities.
Many local governments invest in transportation to tackle larger economic, social and health inequities across underserved areas. Communities of color are twice as likely to take public transportation, many without access to sufficient public transit options. By improving public transit and street design, creating safer and affordable commuting options and expanding access to electric vehicles, local governments can equitably improve air quality, public health and traffic congestion, while simultaneously making significant GHG emissions reductions.
Local governments reported that they are adopting measures such as installing electric vehicle charging stations, expanding bike paths and greenways, electrifying municipal fleets and investing in fuel efficiency to curb emissions within this sector.
In 2021, 38 US cities reported 55 transport-related projects seeking funding, comprising nearly 17% of the reported projects. These projects are collectively valued at US$1.8 billion and need approximately US$1 billion to advance toward implementation.
In 2021, the US faced 20 extreme weather and climate related disasters, with a cumulative cost of more than US$145 billion. Heat waves, more intense and frequent storms, droughts, inland floods, sea level rise and flooding continue to impact US cities, resulting in heavy financial losses that are often not covered by insurance or federal aid. Municipalities’ credit ratings can also be adversely impacted by lack of preparedness, which in turn can make it more costly to borrow in the future.
The impacts are not felt evenly, as people of color, low-income and historically marginalized communities disproportionately face the negative health and environmental impacts. Local governments are looking to integrate climate resilience and environmental justice through a wide range of projects, from the expansion of urban canopies and green infrastructure to wildfire and flood mitigation.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) commits over US$50 billion toward several climate-related threats, including US$8.7 billion for resilient transportation, US$8.25 billion for wildfire management, US$7 billion as investments in resilience through the Army Corps of Engineers, US$3.7 billion toward flood mitigation programs and US$3.8 billion to improve water security in western regions.
In 2021, 30 local governments across the US disclosed 53 resilience-based projects, comprising nearly 17% of reported projects. These projects are collectively valued at US$10.5 billion and need approximately US$5 billion to advance toward implementation.
In addition to developing climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plans, local governments require capital for projects that upgrade aging ground infrastructure, improve hazard response systems or employ innovative technologies or nature-based solutions. Of these projects, 10 seek to mitigate damages from flooding by incorporating stormwater capture and green infrastructure and 11 focus on expanding the tree canopy as a cost-effective urban heat island mitigation strategy. Some local governments are coming together to collectively solve water-related challenges through alternative financing mechanisms to increase capital investment and lower transaction costs, like in the Great Lakes region.
Local governments are making the shift from using fossil fuels to clean energy sources. Between 2015 and the first quarter of 2020, US cities signed 335 renewable energy deals totaling 8.28 gigawatts (GW). In 2018, CDP recorded four US local governments reporting that they were using renewable energy for at least 70% of their electric power – by 2021 this number rose to 24 local governments. In 2021, 183 US local governments reported that they have or are in progress of setting renewable energy targets.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is the largest investment in clean energy infrastructure in US history, dedicating US$21.3 billion to delivering clean power, US$21.5 billion toward clean energy demonstrations for innovative technologies and US$8.6 billion in funding for clean energy manufacturing and workforce development.
US cities reported that they are installing on-site renewable generation, purchasing green power through renewable energy certificates and participating in green pricing programs through their electric utilities. In addition to reducing GHG emissions, the transition to renewables bolsters the reliability of the power grid, increases job opportunities, improves clean energy access for remote communities and strengthens energy independence.
In 2021, 46 local governments across the US disclosed 52 renewable energy projects, comprising nearly 16% of reported projects, collectively valued at US$159 million; and need approximately US$117 million to advance toward implementation.
Compared to the aforementioned sectors, local governments are disclosing less project costs given the fact that energy infrastructure is often under the purview of public authorities. For this reason, CDP has launched its first campaign in 2022 to target public authorities such as energy and transport utilities, seaports and airports – which are critical in shifting towards more resilient and sustainable power sector.
Nonetheless, local governments can make strides in developing a range of impactful solutions by engaging both the public and non-profit sectors. Opportunities like community solar offer alternative approaches to infrastructure development that can bring both equitable and sustainable results.
Drinking water, agricultural irrigation, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure are highly vulnerable to climate change. Damage and interruption of operations to these vital services can lead to illnesses, environmental degradation and economic losses. It is crucial for governments to incorporate water management issues into risk analyses and resilience planning. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) commits to spending US$55 billion in drinking water, wastewater, waste reuse, conveyance and water storage infrastructure. This includes US$23.4 billion in drinking water and clean water state revolving funds, US$15 billion in lead pipe replacements, US$10 billion in PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl) and treatment of pollutants, US$1 billion in rural water projects and US$7.1 billion in the Western Water Program.
For example, in the case of the Colorado River Basin, which serves 40 million people, a combination of an increasingly hotter climate, lower levels of precipitation and a growing population have meant that state and local governments are now making difficult choices about water allocation.
Local governments reported undertaking a range of water management projects to build resilience, including green infrastructure (permeable pavement, bioswales, rain gardens, flow-through planters, green roofs and cisterns), initiatives that improve stormwater drainage and road infrastructure and residential grant programs that seek to offset upfront costs for homeowners.
In 2021, 27 local governments across the US disclosed 32 water management projects, nearly 10% of reported projects. These projects are collectively valued at US$14 billion and are seeking US$2 billion in funding or financing.
Most of these reported projects are either seeking complete or partial funding to advance toward implementation.
The projects highlighted in this snapshot represent a portion of the true magnitude of infrastructure investment needed across the nation – they demonstrate the types of projects that need funding to reduce emissions, create quality jobs and build more equitable and resilient communities.
Over the next two years, city leaders will be evaluating over 400 programs that are available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund infrastructure. New initiatives like the Local Infrastructure Hub will support cities as they apply for federal funding. CDP’s Matchmaker provides a roadmap for where and how to best leverage investment towards a sustainable, equitable and resilient future for all.