The choice between prioritizing economics or the environment remains a strong burden for city leaders. However, this week, current and former mayors from New York City, Houston, and Rio de Janeiro are calling for strong climate action that will improve the lives of their residents, and empower their city.
This bold call to action challenges the assumption that economic development and environmental protection are incompatible, and increasingly, evidence supports such claims. In a recent report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climates, experts across multiple private and public sectors have concluded that cities can benefit greatly through climate action.
Through energy efficiency, the development of green spaces, and increased public transportation, cities can increase the property value for their residents, who will lead healthier and happier lives. Businesses too, can benefit—investing in long term solutions that will decrease costs over time, and attract more climate conscious customers and employees.
The burden for acting on climate falls on Mayors, city leaders, and residents. Already, strong networks of Mayors are partnering, sharing resources and strategies for climate success. Residents have successfully lobbied their municipal leaders to implement climate solutions in their communities. These gains mark the beginning of tremendous progress, and through further hard work and collaboration, more cities will get on the Path to Positive!
For too long, the same old argument has been used to prevent bold action on climate change: Elected officials can either be pro-business, or they can be pro-environment. From experience, having served as mayors who saw that acting on climate contributed to economic growth, we know this is a false choice.
In fact, we now know that many of the most effective ways to foster economic growth in cities are some of the very same actions needed to help fight climate change. Each of us has seen how investments in green infrastructure – including improving mass transit systems, promoting renewable energy, and creating more green space – attracts private capital and spurs economic development.
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