Speaking at the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, mayors from cities across the US have urged president-elect Donald Trump to recognise the real and urgent threat that climate change poses to the world’s cities, and to support them as they enact policies and programs to combat climate change.
Drawing on a new C40 research report, How US Cities Will Get The Job Done, the mayors of Washington DC, Portland, Austin, Seattle and Phoenix revealed that the 12 US cities that are members of the C40 network have already taken nearly 2400 individual actions to respond to climate change in the past decade. From retrofitting buildings in New York to make them more energy efficient, to the rollout of thousands of LED streetlights in Los Angeles, US cities are getting the job done.
“The science hasn’t changed. The urgency hasn’t changed,” said mayor of Boston and C40 vice chair Martin Walsh, speaking from Boston.
“As mayors of cities at the frontlines of climate change, we have a continued responsibility to carry forward solutions – even more so today than yesterday.”
The report also reveals that if all US cities follow the lead shown by these C40 cities and pursue deep, rapid emissions reductions, by 2025 cities would contribute more than one-third of the emissions reductions needed to meet the United States’ commitments to the Paris Agreement.
“Mayors don’t look at climate change as an ideological issue. They look at it as an economic and public health issue,” said C40 President of the Board and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg. “Regardless of the decisions of the incoming administration, US mayors will continue to deliver action and lead the way.”
A report released previously at the Summit, Deadline 2020, concludes the next four years will determine whether the world can avoid the worst effects of climate change. If the world fails to act, global temperatures cannot be kept below 1.5 degrees warming, a key ambition of the Paris Agreement, negotiated at the COP21 climate negotiations.
“One election doesn’t change who we are in cities in America.” said Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C. “As mayors and citizens we are determined to lead the way on facing the climate crisis.”
“In New York City, we’ve concluded that environmental sustainability and economic sustainability must walk hand in hand, and that growing economic inequality in our city?—?mirrored throughout our nation and across the globe?—?threatens the strength and humanity of our communities,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking from New York. “We will continue to act with urgency in concert with our C40 partners to cut our carbon emissions and do our part to keep the rise in average global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The cost of prevention pales in comparison to cost of inaction, in terms of dollars, property and human life.”
The research also found that one in five Americans now live in a C40 city and US cities are the most collaborative of any region globally.
“We hope that President-Elect Trump can be convinced to join us in providing this global leadership city leaders cross America are already showing, said Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland. “But if he doesn’t we will not be slowed down, with or without the support of the White House. The risks of not acting are just too severe.”
In recent years, cities—working together with national governments—have demonstrated that it’s possible to tackle climate change while growing economies. President Obama’s Administration has made considerable progress: launching programs like the Better Buildings Initiative to support cities looking for clean energy options and energy-efficient transportation systems; starting the Our Cities, Our Climate initiative with US Secretary of State John F. Kerry and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg; and achieving a goal of having 100 U.S. cities sign on to the Compact of Mayors – now the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
Through networks like C40 and events like the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City—as well as the accompanying C40 Cities Awards—mayors will continue to work together globally to achieve major emissions reductions and to make cities more resilient to climate change.