Environment News Service (ENS)

Big City Mayors Strategize to Beat Global Warming


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

New York, New York - The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, today addressed mayors from 34 of the world's largest cities about the dangers of catastrophic climate change and the need for immediate action.

Speaking at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, Mayor Livingstone said, 'The fight to tackle climate change will be won or lost in cities. Whatever the discussions between our national governments, as cities we are not waiting for anyone else to move first.'

The C40 is a group of the world's largest cities committed to addressing climate change. Mayors from across the United States and around the world are at the summit including the mayors of Bangkok, Berlin, Bogata, Chicago, Copenhagen, Delhi, Houston, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Rio, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver.

'The programs which we are going to be able to announce this week and over the coming months are truly ground-breaking,' Mayor Livingstone said. 'They will create the opportunity for cities to take decisive action to accelerate their emissions reductions and in so doing tilt the balance of the struggle against climate change. Together we can create a critical mass that puts the world on the path to tackling the biggest challenged ever faced by humanity.'

'We are not going to simply talk about what we could do, while the window of opportunity for preventing catastrophic climate change disappears,' said the London mayor, who chairs the C40. 'Every city here today is a leader in at least one aspect of the fight to tackle climate change.'

'We are increasingly interconnected - no city can wall itself off from the consequences of climate change, and no city can prevent catastrophic climate change on its own,' said Livingstone. 'Each city's presence here today demonstrates a willingness to work together towards a common cause.'

A comprehensive program of interactive sessions has been created to enable the mayors, their senior staff members and business leaders, to share best practices and identify collaborative projects aimed at tackling climate change. The summit continues through Thursday.

Former President Bill Clinton will give one of the keynote speeches at the event. Later in the week, major collaborative projects will be announced as part of the C40s collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative.

'Together, our cities have considerable purchasing clout and the C40, through the Clinton Climate Initiative, is seeking to unleash that power, driving down the price of the products and services that will enable us to rapidly improve energy efficiency and cut emissions,' Livingstone said.

The core message of Mayor Livingstone's own Climate Change Action Plan is that Londoners do not have to reduce their standard of living for London to play its part in tackling climate change. But all residents have to change the way they live from a high energy-use, wasteful economic model to one that conserves energy and minimizes waste.

Speaking at a summit panel session which was full to capacity, Mayor Livingstone discussed London's congestion charge with Mayor Beto Richa of Curitiba, President of the Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde, delegates from Rome, Bangkok, Vancouver, and representatives of business organizations.

'Cities across the world are telling me that reducing congestion and cutting vehicle emissions is a real priority for them and many are asking about London's congestion charge,' Livingstone said.

'Despite hostile media coverage predicting doom and gloom, it proved to be a success,' he said, 'with a 38 percent reduction in private car use and carbon emissions down 20 per cent in the congestion charge zone. We invested heavily in our public transport system to offer Londoners a real alternative to their cars and the results speak for themselves - we now have over 80 per cent more people choosing to cycle and over six million people traveling by bus each day.'

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg aroused controversy when he proposed a congestion charge for Manhattan on April 23 as part of the city's multi-billion dollar Green Plan.

At the summit today, Toronto Mayor David Miller unveiled an initiative that he says will put Canada’s largest city 'at the forefront of the citizen-based global fight against climate change.'

A hybrid of environmental footprint calculator and a web-based social network, Zerofootprint Toronto illustrates to users the impact every aspect of their daily lives has on the environment while allowing them to network with friends, neighbors and co-workers to create a virtual eco-community.

Users are encouraged to create joint initiatives and challenges, compile their results, and measure and celebrate their success.

'Climate change is the issue of our time and it’s up to all of us to do our part to minimize the impact of day-to-day activities,' said Mayor Miller.

'Zerofootprint Toronto is going to help make my city not only one of the greenest on the planet, but one of the most innovative as well. Our residents are anxious to do what they can to help save the planet and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and they are looking for ways to do it. This is just one more way.'

Mayor Miller challenged his fellow mayors at the C40 summit to adopt the Zerofootprint model in their cities.

Zerofootprint president and CEO Ron Dembo said, 'The vision is to show the cumulative impacts of all participating cities, create joint initiatives, measure their achievements and celebrate their successes. By acting together cities can have as much impact on the environment as one large country.'

'Cities are where change is happening the fastest and we must seize the opportunities we have been presented with to make that change significant and permanent,' said Mayor Miller.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council and environmental leaders, today unveiled 'GREEN LA – An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming.' Mayor Villaraigosa is scheduled to attend the C40 Climate Summit later in the week.

'We’re setting the green standard in LA. Reducing our carbon footprint by 35 percent below 1990 levels is the most ambitious goal set by a major American city,' Mayor Villaraigosa said.

GREEN LA aims to reduce Los Angeles’ greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This target goes beyond those set by the Kyoto Protocol and is greatest reduction target of any large U.S. city.

The core of GREEN LA is increasing the city’s use of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2020.

GREEN LA proposes more than 50 initiatives that will reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Ownership of the largest municipal utility in the country allows the city to directly affect a major source of greenhouse gases – electricity production.

Overall, city operations account for one-third of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

Investing in energy efficiency and renewable power at the municipal level is only part of the solution, the mayor said. The city must leverage change in the public and private sectors by promoting green energy, conserving water, building a world-class transportation system, reducing waste, greening the port and airports, creating more open space and park land, and adapting its economy to the realities of global climate change.

'Climate change is an issue that affects us all, both globally and locally,' said Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti. 'With this greenhouse gas reduction goal, the Mayor is recognizing the city's work towards reducing our carbon footprint and putting Los Angeles at the forefront of one of the great issues of our time.'

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