Mayors across the country have signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a nonbinding initiative encouraging city leaders to meet or beat the greenhouse-gas reductions outlined in the U.S.-shunned Kyoto Protocol. So about that nonbinding part: While some city officials have taken concrete steps to reduce emissions, others haven’t followed through at all. “I remember at the time I thought it was a good idea,” says Vista, Calif., Mayor Morris Vance, who asked city staff to “come back with some recommendations” that have not yet emerged. Jim Janney, mayor of nearby Imperial Beach, says “It’s not like we’ve ignored it completely, but we haven’t pushed real hard.” Many mayors plead tight budgets as a constraint to climate action. Mayor Mary Sessom of Lemon Grove, Calif., who didn’t sign on to the agreement, tells the unfortunate truth: “Signing a piece of paper doesn’t mean we intend to do anything about climate change.”

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