On Thursday (March 26), leaders and representatives from 30 European cities attended a conference in Paris to highlight the role of major urban centers in the fight against climate change and to formalize their commitment to eco-friendly policies. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and Rome mayor Ignazio Marino hosted the meeting at Paris’ city hall. Delegates arrived in electric cars from Autolib’, the city’s car sharing service, decorated in their country’s colors.
The outcome of the conference was a declaration, signed by 26 European mayors, affirming their commitment to addressing climate change at local, regional, and global levels.
Within cities, mayors agree to address “the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions: polluting transport, old and/or poorly isolated buildings and energy supply,” and to “tackle urban sprawl, (re)introduce nature and biodiversity in our cities, improve recycling, fight against waste, move us towards a circular economy, prioritize public transport, increase electrical mobility, refurbish buildings and improve energy efficiency.”
At the European level, mayors commit to pooling efforts and exchanging expertise and good practices between cities. They agree to use their collective purchasing power of about €10bn a year to invest in green products and services.
Lastly, the mayors commit to be more involved at the global level and contribute to the adoption of a global agreement by building on “networks of cities and local governments involved in climate action to create new global governance.”
— COP21 – Paris 2015 (@COP21) 27 Marzo 2015
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) 27 Marzo 2015
By joining forces, European mayors hope to strengthen the instruments that will help lead cities towards an energy and environmental transition. As Hidalgo noted in her welcome address, half of the global population will be living in cities by 2050, and will be responsible for 70% of all carbon emissions.
Yet cities, as noted in the declaration, have the potential to concentrate public investments in green sectors and low carbon industries and services, which will have “a leverage effect on the private sector that very often aligns its own requirements with the public sector.” Realizations such as this one underline the idea that solutions to the global problem of climate change are often local, thereby demonstrating the importance of city leaders in addressing climate change.
(Image: Paris Skyline. Photo credit: Taylor Miles/Flickr)