A group of senior Republican statesmen went to the White House this month with a climate change plan. Among them was former Secretary of State James Baker — once skeptical of global warming — who said, "The risks are too great to ignore. We need some sort of insurance policy."

It was seen as a much-needed breakthrough on an urgent issue. Perhaps it is even a signal that the national debate about climate change will move beyond partisanship to practical solutions.

We are not sure anyone is betting on progress in Washington, D.C., however, so that is why America's practical-minded leaders — like those in the military and business — are taking action. The Pentagon and hundreds of CEOs are not waiting to invest in better, cleaner, more efficient technologies. They are driving down renewable energy costs now and preparing for heat waves, droughts and rising sea levels.

Fortunately, the Lake Oswego City Council sent a strong signal of its own earlier this month. Councilors incorporated climate change into their 2017 goals and tasked the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) to recommend a plan of action appropriate for Lake Oswego. We salute their leadership.

A large majority of Oregonians say they are concerned about climate change. To better understand local concerns, the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network (LOSN) has hosted discussion groups. What the LOSN found is that people often feel overwhelmed, uncertain or even cynical about taking action — that is, until they learn that cities are often in the forefront.

Why do cities take on a global issue like climate change? Three reasons:

Cities shape our future and preserve our past: Our city — and our weather — is changing, as people who have lived here for decades will tell you. We must decide whether we continue with outdated approaches, or take action to help preserve the things that are important to us. That includes a stable climate, as well as protecting and developing the infrastructure and amenities that make Lake Oswego such a great place to live.

Cities can find cost-effective ways to address climate change with better bike lanes and walking paths; smart investments in high-performance buildings, electric vehicles and solar energy; and improved transit, neighborhoods, homes and more.

Cities spur innovation: Across America, from Palo Alto to Grand Rapids, you find cities improving quality of life with climate action. Lake Oswego can adapt solutions from thousands of other examples. Likewise, what works well here can prompt success in other small cities.

The City has existing plans, programs and projects to build on, as well as local expertise to tap. SAB and LOSN have collectively pledged 1,000 volunteer hours to the climate planning process, helping avoid costs to the City.

Cities are built on trust: Columnist Thomas Friedman has noted, "America is blessed with many healthy communities ... and thank goodness — because the healthy city, town or community is going to be the most important governing building block of the 21st century."

This is because cities are personal. We operate at human scale and people with different opinions can work things out. The conservative older gentleman may find himself on a committee with a liberal young mother, and they might become friends — or at least find ways to agree.

When you see someone at the theater, the grocery store or the annual Rotary Lobster Feed, it is easier to learn, talk and empathize. That leads to compromise and collaboration. It leads to action.

Eliot Metzger is the chairman of Lake Oswego's Sustainability Advisory Board; Lisa Adatto is president of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network.