Now that the much anticipated talks in Paris have come to a close, and a deal has been reached, the real work on implementing climate solutions begins. With each country pledging its own reduction targets, there is a great deal of flexibility in how emission cuts are reached. Because the majority of global emissions come from cities, the majority of reductions will be spearheaded by local and community leaders—and their work is already underway.
This was the topic of discussion last week, when mayors from cities around the globe came together to share their experiences of climate successes, failures, and goals for moving their communities towards sustainability. The meeting, organized by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, was for the C40 Awards, in which 10 cities were recognized for their commitment and progress towards cutting emissions. The most successful cities emphasized investments in wind and solar, in retrofitting buildings and emphasizing efficiency, and focusing on conservation of resources at increased levels. But the real lesson was that climate solutions must be shared. Mayors should learn from other cities, find examples, steal solutions, and work to empower their communities with climate action plans that are effective and enriching.
The climate solutions pledged in Paris are international in scope, but will be met at the local and regional level. City and community leaders will need to collaborate to identify the most effective paths forward, ones which empower their communities, and address climate change. To find out more about how other mayors have found climate success, check out the success stories at Path to Positive Communities.
On a Thursday night in Paris, the façade of La Gaîté Lyrique—the music and performing arts center just a short walk from several of the spots where the Paris terror attacks occurred last month—is lit with a bright green glow. About a half-hour's drive away, in suburbs to the northeast, diplomats from around the world are hashing out a global climate agreement as part of the Paris Climate Talks, an excruciating process that has the power to quite literally save the world, or not.
But tonight's event is focused on something more local, and more tangible: what can be done to fight climate change at the city level.
At the cocktail reception upstairs in La Gaîté, sustainability-minded mayors from all over the world are mingling over champagne and appetizers that range from tiny cucumber circles covered in diced raw tuna to quarter-sized pancakes topped with lox. To one side of the room, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Australia, Clover Moore, is deep in discussion with Huang Lan, the deputy mayor of Nanjing, China. To the other side of the room, Tommy Wells, Washington, D.C.'s director of energy and environment, is trading sustainability tricks with Jim Baxter, the head of the same division in Toronto, Ontario.
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