Cities climate campaign launched

Posted: 1 March 2005

Over 100 cities will be targeted in new campaign to highlight the dangers of climate change and encourage local action to counter it. Organised by the British Council, the ZeroCarbonCity campaign will cost £4 million over the next two years and expects to reach at least 6 million people in 60 countries.

Launching the campaign in London today, Neil Kinnock, Chair of the British Council, said that low-carbon cities were an imperative that must be achieved by the mid twenty-first century when most of the world's growing population would be city dwellers. He called for stronger links and combined action across the world and said that cities should learn rapidly from one another's successes and mistakes in tackling climate change.

"Cities occupy a pivotal position in terms of climate change both as major energy consumers, and as centres of new thinking and policy innovation, Lord Kinnock said. "International links of understanding and action can be built between cities, even when States cannot agree. Focusing activities on cities will generate fresh perspectives on the climate issue, building awareness of the challenges and of the potential solutions and fostering debate about possible remedies.

"ZeroCarbonCity shifts the emphasis of attention towards mitigation, adaptation and practical measures that can be taken" he said. "In doing that, the campaign will raise international awareness of the UK as a country that has commitments to tackling climate change and seeks to promote answers as well as analysis." The United Kingdom has put climate at the centre its concerns in a year when it chairs both the European Union and the G8 group of industrialised counbtries.

Photo exhibition

The campaign includes a photographic exhibition about climate change commissioned in partnership with The Climate Group and Magnum Photographic Agency. This opens at the Science Museum on the 14 March and will travel to over 60 countries throughout 2005 and 2006. It is supported by a book featuring essays by, amongst others, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Leonardo di Caprio, Mary Robinson, Professor Sir David King and Yong Wook-Lee.

The campaign also features a global online debate focusing on the politics of climate change. This starts in April and will run up to the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July. The debate will be supported with articles by scientists, technologists, policy-makers and city planners and run in partnership with openDemocracy.

A separate publication, Climate Change and Cities: A brief look at the issues illustrates the relationship between climate change and cities. It features global case studies of contrasting cities and suggests responses at city level.

Tke British Council also plans a programme of city debates around the globe using city venues to provide a platform for expert comment and open discussions.

For those seeking more information, the ZeroCarbonCity website features an array of 'climate-themed' resources including teaching materials, a science writers' book list, key UK research programmes, multi-media downloads, and links to environmental organisations and universities working in environmental subject areas. There is also a calendar of campaign events and debates.