World's mayors call for action on climate change

Posted: 19 May 2007

Mayors from 34 of the world's largest cities met in New York City in mid-May to discuss the dangers of catastrophic climate change and the need for immediate action. ENS reports.

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
London Mayor Ken Livingstone was also chairman of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit. Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor
Speaking at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, the Mayor of London, Ken 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 attended the summit from 14-17 May including the mayors of Bangkok, Berlin, Bogotá, Chicago, Copenhagen, Delhi, Houston, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Rio, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver.

"The programmes 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."

Traffic
Traffic
Controlling emissions from traffic in central London is a priority for Mayor Livingstone. Photo courtesy FreeFoto
"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.

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, 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, neighbours 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.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has set a greenhouse gas emissions target for the city. Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor
In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council and environmental leaders, has unveiled "GREEN LA - An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming."

"We're setting the green standard in LA. Reducing our carbon footprint by 35 per cent 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 US city.

The core of GREEN LA is increasing the city's use of renewable energy to 35 per cent 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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