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Climate Change: What is your city doing?

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Posted By Paula Nourse
Photo courtesy of © Chris Jewiss and Dreamstime

We have reached the “point of no return” on climate change, the United Nations chief executive declared Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres issued that warning to nearly 200 countries gathering for two weeks in Madrid to discuss global warning. “It is no longer over the horizon,” Guterres said. “It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

We’ve got to take this seriously. Cities may be more effective in easing, if not reversing climate change than states or countries.  In 2005 the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone brought together representatives of 18 megacities to agree to work together to proactively reduce pollution affecting climate change.  By 2006, the number of megacities — metropolitan areas with populations of 10 million or more — involved in the project increased to 40. 

Three evidence-based steps qualified those cities to walk the climate change walk per the C40. Each city would:

1. Embrace resilience thinking 

Resilience is defined as an approach that recognizes the complex interactions between society and our ecosystems, embraces the idea of change, and acknowledges uncertainty. 

2. Adopt green infrastructures 

The European Union, for example, has had a green infrastructure strategy in place since 2013. Canada does not, leaving towns and cities to define their own policies and standards of practice. This may seem daunting, but in fact it gives municipal governments a terrific opportunity to advance natural climate solutions. 

3. Collaborate

Working together is critical for addressing acute emergencies as well as preparing for uncertain futures. For example, climate change will make wildfires more frequent, intense, and dangerous in the U.S. and Canada.  Collaboration among responders has contributed to the success of battling those fires. 

As I mentioned, cities can often be more nimble than states or countries. In 2009 the United States had not yet endorsed the Kyoto Protocol.  However, 1,016 mayors signed a climate protection agreement according to the Mayors Climate Protection Center.  

Toronto Mayor David Miller, chairman of the C40 Group in 2009, reacted with a strong statement.

“Waiting for nations to take the lead with a new climate protocol in Copenhagen in December is not an option,” he said.  “If governments talk about reducing CO2, cities are the ones that show how it’s done.”   

In 2016, the C40 released a report card showing that 10,000 climate actions had been implemented since 2011.   Despite this success, they wanted to clear the path to greater success. They analyzed what could be improved. Barriers to success varied by the project category; outdoor lighting, buildings, community scale, waste, private transportation, water, food and agriculture, public transportation, or adaptation. Barriers also varied by region and could be identified as political, pertaining to leadership, establishing climate priorities, resources, funding, regulation, and legislation.  Source:  C40 City Potential 2015 published by C40 Cities on December 16, 2016. 

Also, in 2016 the C40 announced new goals: “Every member city must set out a robust plan for how they will deliver climate action consistent with constraining global heating to no more than 1.5°C by 2020. To give us even a 50% chance of staying within climate-safe limits, cities need to collectively peak emissions by 2020 and reduce emissions by at least half by 2030.” 

So, what can you do to if you live in a city that is complacent on climate change issues?   

  • Visit your city’s website to look for updates on climate change issues.   
  • Contact your mayor by phone.  The phone number is listed on city websites. 
  • Attend city council meetings and be prepared to speak.  A calendar is available on city websites with info for their agendas. 
  • Contact our city council representative.   
  • Continue to monitor the C40 list of cities and their activities.   
  • Participate in local climate change marches.  Carry a sign that addresses the mayor by name.  

Visit: C40: The Cities Where Emissions Are Dropping – CityLab… 


C40 announces launch of C40 Knowledge Hub, an online platform providing cities with cutting-edge intelligence to drive climate action at greater speed and scale.  Sources: C40 City Potential 2015 published by C40 Cities on December 16, 2016. C40 press releases and statements. C40 Web Site C40 Wikipedia page S S

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