World mayors compare notes on saving climate
15 , 2009 - Jan M. Olsen and Charles J. Hanley - The Associated Press
The Obama administration should have sent federal stimulus money not to the
U.S. states, but to cities, where "most of the environmental damage is done and
most of the chances for improvement are," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said
Bloomberg joined about 80 other local leaders from around the world
at a "summit" that took place alongside the U.N. climate conference.
mayors and other officials were from rich capitals like London and Tokyo and impoverished
cities as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. They were taking part
in the five-day session to compare notes on how cities can help reduce emissions
of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases, and save money on energy and other
City leaders say they want to show the way, but can't do it alone.
"While nations talk, cities act. Cities are delivering real cuts in greenhouse
gases," Toronto Mayor Steve Miller said. "We have already cut 1 million tons of
CO2 per year. To do more, we need our national governments to act."
through the 193-nation U.N. conference Tuesday, deep divides between rich and
poor nations brought talks to a crawl. Negotiators sought agreement on new reductions
in greenhouse-gas emissions by industrialized countries, and controls on emissions
growth in the developing world.
President Barack Obama and more than 100
other national leaders are scheduled to participate in the conference's final
days this week. Miller, Bloomberg, Copenhagen's Ritt Bjerregaard and dozens of
the other mayors Tuesday signed a joint declaration urging the leaders "to embrace
this chance and seal an ambitious and empowering deal in Copenhagen."
York - a city of islands, subways and other underground infrastructure - will
be threatened by seas rising from global warming. To guard against ever-stronger
sea surges from future hurricanes, some scientists and engineers have suggested
the city build giant barriers in New York Harbor.
is moving ahead with immediate plans to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions
by 30 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.
The New York City Council last
week approved legislation requiring owners of larger buildings to do energy audits
and replace insulation and take other steps toward energy efficiency, including
upgrading their lighting. The city has also planted 300,000 of 1 million new trees,
has extended bike lanes over 200 miles of streets, and has encouraged conversion
to hybrid vehicles of 22 percent of the taxi fleet, among other emissions-saving
"It is a big deal," Bloomberg said at a panel session after the
summit opening. He boasted that the city was making progress without financial
support from New York State.
In fact, the mayor said, some of the $787
billion federal stimulus package, to create jobs in the midst of U.S. recession,
became a "great waste of money" when it was funneled to the states for projects.
"If the federal government really wants to do something, you give the money
directly to the cities. The dumbest way to distribute the money is to send it
to the states, because they have to spread it around the states for political
reasons," often to be spent on useless projects, he said.
"I've said this
to the president and to every member of Congress I can buttonhole," Bloomberg
added. "You really have to send the money where the problem is."
and towns consume two-thirds of the world's total primary energy and produce more
than 70 percent of its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, the International
Energy Agency reports. That will grow to 76 percent by 2030, the agency says.
Most comes from electrifying and heating private, commercial and municipal buildings.
Other big cities are also trying to lead on climate. Sao Paulo, Brazil,
for example, a sprawl of 11 million people, has by law set as a goal a 30 percent
reduction in emissions by 2013. It has already achieved 20 percent since 2005,
chiefly through its new system of generating biogas for energy at landfills, instead
of allowing waste methane, a greenhouse gas, to rise into the skies.
a city of 1.2 million, also has set ambitious goals. It's cut CO2 emissions by
20 percent from 1995 to 2005. Mayor Bjerregaard plans to reduce it by another
20 percent by 2015, and then to become "carbon-neutral" by 2025.
round-table talks Tuesday, Bjerregaard said the plans and accomplishments laid
out by other mayors "will inspire all of us to act."
NOTE - Find behind-the-scenes information, blog posts and discussion about the
Copenhagen climate conference at http://www.facebook.com/theclimatepool, a Facebook
page run by AP and an array of international news agencies. Follow coverage and
blogging of the event on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/AP_ClimatePool