Cities, Provinces, States: We Can Do Something, We Must Do Something

By Carol Somplatsky-Jarman, December 17

On Tuesday, mayors and other local government officials from more than 80 cities worldwide called on the COP 15 at the Climate Summit for Mayors at the Copenhagen City Hall to consider cities in any future agreement on climate change.

Among the speakers were Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York (and we think we saw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles on Danish TV).  Cities account for more than half the world’s population and urban areas produce at least two-thirds of the world’s emissions.

Bloomberg talked about New York City’s effort on renovating existing buildings to make them more energy efficient as one contribution to cutting CO2 emission levels 30% by 2030.  The mayors emphasized that local governments can implement changes immediately and effectively in transport, infrastructure and waste management.  The mayors passed on their message in the form of a Climate Catalogue which documented 3,200 targets set by 2,800 cities to reduce greenhouse gases. 
According to The COP15 Post:

“But probably the most poignant message of the opening day came from Dar es Salaam mayor Adam Kimbasi who urged cities and nations to stop the climate injustice plaguing his city and other like it.  According to Kimbasi, many developing world cities are being flooded with climate refugees that they cannot accommodate: ‘The young unemployed become a breeding ground for violence and extremism.  Someone, somewhere, has to do something. We can’t just stand by and only listen,’ he implored.”  

Of additional interest on this post: 

A related December 17, 2009 article in The COP 15 Post concerns how “Mayors Say Private Money is the Answer,” where California’s governor spoke yesterday (among other speakers).  On December 15 and 16, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at the Bella Center and at the Climate Summit for Mayors at City Hall.  He talked about local government efforts (state, province and city) and emphasized that officials can act on their own even without a climate agreement (something they should be doing).  He also praised Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for the city’s effort to replace 5,100 old diesel trucks which has reduced truck emissions for this part of the city’s fleet by 70 percent.  Concerning individual efforts, the Governor said, “You’ve got to make to whole thing hip for them to fight climate change.”

Bill McKibben adds a dose of reality:
You heard us talk in yesterday’s post about Bill not being able to get into the COP15 at the Bella Center.  Bill McKibben, of writes in yesterday’s The COP15 Post about “Inside the Bella Center Bubble.”

U.S. Ramps Up Its Effort; Will It Be Enough?

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived last evening and was at the Bella Center today for a press conference to announce a developed country proposal to raise $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change (the EU and Japan are already committed to contributing, but Clinton said that the U.S. contributions are contingent on reaching “a substantive political accord that would include ‘transparency’ in tracking emission cuts by major developing countries.”).  To catch Clinton’s archive press conference, please go to the UNFCCC website video file.

Whether this will be enough to break the deadlock on other issues is the subject of much speculation.  $100 billion sounds like a big number, and it is.  Yet it is less than the estimated need for aid to the developing countries.  Some commentators are openly identifying it as a negotiation ploy to put pressure on China by driving a wedge between the developing countries desperate for help, and their faster growing partner.  Add to that the absence of a U.S. commitment to a strong reduction target, and you get even more skepticism.  Nevertheless, prominent U.S. environmental organizations are praising the announcement in hopes that it will create some further movement. 

Another announcement has come saying that U.S. President Barack Obama may not be coming to the COP15 in Copenhagen tomorrow.  Secretary Hillary Clinton was somewhat evasive at her press conference.  When asked, she only responded that he was still planning to come. 

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