Jun 19, 2012  |  NYC.gov

The following are Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio+C40: Megacity Mayors Taking Action on Climate Change Summit:

“Thank you – obrigado – Eduardo. This week, people from all over the world are converging on your wonderful city, including the mayors of a number of C40 cities who are on stage now.

“Having visited Brazil just a year ago, I can assure them, and all of you: The hospitality of the people of Rio is certain make every guest feel like a true carioca in no time. And we’ll all be eager to return for the World Cup in 2014 – and maybe all just decide then to stay for the Olympics in 2016, too.

“Bom dia – good morning – everyone. On behalf of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, I join Eduardo in welcoming you to Rio+C40 – today’s exciting event. And to all who are in Rio to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that begins tomorrow, let me say: The world’s sustainable future is already becoming a reality.

“You can see it taking shape in the cities where the majority of the people on Earth now live. From Bogota to Berlin, from Jakarta to Johannesburg, and from my New York to Eduardo’s Rio, cities are leading the way.

“The title of today’s session gets it exactly right: Mega-city mayors are indeed taking action on climate change – action that is also improving the public health, enhancing the quality of life, and increasing economic opportunity for the people we serve.

“It’s been 20 years since the first, historic ‘Earth Summit’ here in Rio. That meeting focused the world’s attention on the need for concerted international action to clean our air and water, manage congestion in cities, and limit the emission of greenhouse gases.

“Since then, there have, all too regrettably, been detours and delays in realizing those goals. Nevertheless, the call to action sounded at Rio back in 1992 still rings loudly in the streets of cities around the globe.

“Even as progress at the national and international levels has faltered, the world’s cities have forged ahead. The reason for that is clear. Mayors – the great pragmatists on the world’s stage, who are directly responsible for the well-being of the majority of the world’s people – don’t have the luxury of simply talking about change, but not delivering it.

“Now we ask the international organizations and leaders of state gathering in Rio again this week to take note of that. We ask: Give cities the authority, tools, and technology that will enable us to enlarge our achievements, and quicken our progress. Give city leaders our rightful role in helping to set the policies that will make just, equitable, and sustainable development a global reality, and take those steps now.

“The world is rapidly urbanizing. Cities are becoming bigger and bigger. Our problems are sometimes harder and harder to tackle. Yet we continue to make major progress, even in times of tough budget cuts.

“Often we make this progress acting alone; increasingly, we also learn from and cooperate with one another. But with the help of our national governments we could do far more to secure a better, healthier, and more hopeful present, and future, for our people, and our entire world.

“That’s what’s at stake in Rio this week. That’s the bright future that’s within our power to bring about.

“It’s hard to believe how far C40 has come in less than seven years. There were 20 cities in this organization when it was founded: 20 cities that came together to share best practices and make common cause in combating climate change.

“Today, C40 has grown to include 59 cities; cities where one of every 12 people on Earth lives, and cities that account for some 14 percent of the world’s total carbon footprint.

“Over the past five years, we’ve proved that when cities like ours act locally, we also have an impact globally. Today, we’re providing the numbers that back that statement up, and we’re announcing more concrete actions to build on our progress.

“At C40’s meeting in Hong Kong two years ago, we agreed to a set of strong new organizational priorities. Near the top of the list was a commitment to more regular and rigorous reporting, analysis, and dissemination of our work.

“Last June, we took a big step in that direction with the publication of ‘Climate Action in Megacities,’ our initial report on measures taken by 36 of C40’s member cities. It showed that they had taken more than 4,700 climate-related actions. Over the past year, cities have continued to build on that impressive work. Today, here in Rio, we’re spelling out what that means.

“We’re translating the actions cities are taking into carbon numbers that show the impact cities are having. And that impact is very impressive.

“The research we’re announcing today shows that C40 cities have the potential – based on powers and policies in our cities – to reduce greenhouse gases by well over a gigaton – that’s one billion tons each year – by 2030 from the levels we were at in 2010.

“Let me put that into perspective. That means by 2030, this single-year reduction of greenhouse gases by C40 cities could cancel out single-year emissions equal to those of the nations of Mexico and Canada combined.

“Now that is the potential impact of C40 cities – and our data show that C40 cities are on their way to meeting it. As the mayor of New York, I am proud to point out, for example, that my city has shrunk our carbon footprint by some 13 percent in the past five years alone.

“And we, in unison with other C40 cities, have policies, programs, or projects in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 250 megatons a year by the end of this decade. That’s nearly 250 megatons of annual greenhouse gas reductions that cities are already working to bring about.

“What a contrast to the international treaty process that can’t ever seem to agree on reduction targets for the world’s nations. But we have much more to do.

“And mayors – like my colleagues who are on stage now, working together through organizations like C40 and the Clinton Climate Initiative – will make even more progress.

“Speaking of the Clinton Climate Initiative, it’s now my privilege to introduce someone who continues to devote his considerable talents and bottomless energy to helping cities move ahead on climate change action.

“President Clinton isn’t new to this belief in cities. He was one of the first people at this party, and he has been preaching the gospel of the power of cities for years. And he has been backing that up with real action. From the outset, C40 has benefited from a close working relationship with his foundation and the Clinton Climate Initiative – a key partner for C40 in helping cities reach their goals. That partnership is stronger today than ever.

“So without further ado, let me give you the former President of the United States and the head of the William J. Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton.

“Mr. President: Thank you very much for joining us. And I look forward to seeing you when I return to New York.

[President Clinton spoke briefly before the video conference and then the Mayor continued his address.]

“Let me point out that nearly two-thirds of the climate change actions the C40 cities have taken have been paid for solely from our budgets – without support from our national governments. That’s because cities recognize our responsibilities to act; we haven’t waited for our national governments to go first.

“But it’s also true that the work we’ve done already, and the work we’re doing going forward, would be greatly strengthened by more effective cooperation from our national leaders. And I think I speak for all of the mayors on stage with me now in saying:

“That message needs to be repeated and reinforced throughout the Rio+20 conference this week. For now, it’s a privilege to join my fellow C40 mayors in marking today’s historic carbon commitment by the world’s great cities. Thank you all very much.

“At our meeting in Hong Kong in 2010, we set another major priority for C40: To bring the world’s cities together in networks that enable us to work cooperatively on issues vital to all. In March, at a joint conference with the OECD in Chicago, we launched new networks on sustainable infrastructure finance and on ‘green growth’ economic opportunities.

“Later that month, the city of Melbourne, Australia hosted a ‘sustainable communities workshop’ – which our host city Rio also took part in – where C40 inaugurated a new ‘sustainable urban development’ network.

“Today, we’re launching a new partnership with the World Bank, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition that was announced by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February, and with other key leaders and institutions focused on improving air quality while also lessening climate change impacts. It will support a new C40 network that will help cities address an issue of urgent importance: Improving the management of city solid waste, including reducing the release of methane and other greenhouse gases.

“This is a top priority of many C40 cities. In fact, we’re working with the City of Rio, and other cities, on this issue now. And the success of this new network will move us a long way toward the greenhouse gas reduction goals I described earlier.

“I’d like to invite three people to join me on stage for this announcement now: U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern; Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Nigeria; and Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank Rachel Kyte.

“Thank you all. I wish you every success in this important work. Now please join me center stage. At Hong Kong we also pledged to make C40 the best, most authoritative source of information on what the world’s cities are doing to reduce and adapt to climate change, and also to make ourselves a key resource for cities as they work to achieve their goals.

“Toward that end, today we’re also launching a major new partnership with the Global Urban Initiative on Sustainability. It will build on C40’s brand-new web site to provide a broad, deep, and constantly updated library on what the world’s cities are doing about climate change – and about the tools and resources cities can use to further their work.

“There will be information, for example, about the pioneering report New York City will release this week on an issue important to cities around the world: The largest study yet on energy use in urban buildings, a report that will guide and track our progress in making the nearly one million buildings in New York City more energy-efficient. There will be information as well on the innovations being made in transport and energy-efficiency by our host city of Rio.

“To tell us more about this partnership, I want to introduce a leader of one of the agencies primarily responsible for its work to date: Dr. Shalini Vajjhala, Special Representative of the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."


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