Last week Jill Simmons (director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment) and I had the opportunity to represent the City of Seattle at the C40 Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The C40 is a group of 40 large cities worldwide and a handful of associate cities like Seattle that are committed to tackling the challenges of climate change at a local level. The C40 group recently teamed up with the Clinton Climate Initiative and partnered with the World Bank to provide tools and resources for cities to address both climate mitigation strategies to reduce the amount of green house gas emissions released, and adaptation strategies to reduce the impacts of a warmer planet.
I came away from the conference feeling a renewed sense of urgency and energy for cities to act on climate change. While it is easy to be frustrated by a lack of international, national and state action on climate change, cities around the world stand out for leading with innovation and ingenuity in finding solutions. As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in his opening remarks, “Even as actions at the national and international level have faltered, the world’s great cities have forged ahead.” And residents of these cities are already benefiting with cleaner air, lower energy costs, and more robust transportation alternatives.
Two additional themes emerged over the course of the four day conference: Major cities on all six continents are aggressively implementing actions and strategies to address climate change – this isn’t just a US phenomenon; and cities around the world have immense respect for the leadership Seattle has shown on climate issues, and they continue to look to Seattle for guidance.
In the coming days I will post about projects I learned about in transportation, energy efficient buildings, and solid waste with more details on subjects I tweeted about such as bike share programs and smart meters in homes.
It is clear that we must accelerate the actions we are taking right here in Seattle. We have both the citizenry and the political leadership eager to act and hungry to start reaping the benefits that our investments will deliver. I am excited to begin work on the update of Seattle’s Climate Action Plan that will begin later this summer, and I am looking forward to engaging with all of you as we develop the next steps Seattle will take on the path to Climate Neutrality.