March 11, 2014 – The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is responsible for a near doubling of climate actions by their 63 member cities since 2011. Member cities, the world’s largest, have implemented 8,000 climate actions in the last three years. It will come as no surprise that the vast majority of member cities are coastal. You can learn more about C40 at c40.org.
The organization’s most recent international meeting took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Three new cities were welcomed to the ranks at that meeting: Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi. Michael Bloomberg presides over the C40 board, and plans to work closely with UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon in creating support for a UN Summit on Climate Change in September.
Bloomberg, of course, just retired as mayor of New York City after 12 years on the job. During his time in office, greenhouse gas emissions declined 19%. “Mayors don’t have time to debate politics, they have to deliver results, and mayors around the world increasingly recognize the threats climate change poses to our cities,” says Bloomberg. (He is also widely known for having donated $50 million to the Sierra Club in order to help them combat the continued use of coal energy in the United States.)
The C40 Leadership Group represents 600 million people worldwide, 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 21 % of gross domestic product. Because cities produce 70% of the world’s carbon emissions and use more than three-quarter of the world’s energy, they all can benefit from the programs tested and utilized by C40. So far the greatest interest has been shown in bus rapid transit systems, ecologically friendly outdoor lighting, and bike sharing schemes. C40 intends to set up a City Director in the next two years. Cities can then apply to the Director for staff resources to help address their particular climate change priorities.
For instance, Latin America is a bus rapid transit leader. Because of its pioneering work, Chicago and New York City are now implementing similar systems. In Rio de Janeiro, the city has created a command center called the Rio Operations Center (ROC). The center exists because Rio residents who live in its legendary favelas (slums) endure mudslides which occur without warning. The ROC will have the ability to forecast weather events likely to precipitate mudslides. Because ROC operations include a public announcement system, favela residents can now be warned of approaching danger.
Another mayor named Michael put it best. “We will have to drive national policy,”
asserted Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia. “On so many issues there is such gridlock at [the] federal level that it must be driven at the local level – that is where most of these things happen.”
With thanks to bloomberg.com, smh.com.au, and fastcoexist.com.