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Cities can help UN climate talks, Bloomberg tells C40 summit

Progress by cities in cutting CO2 should inspire climate talks, says UN climate envoy and former NYC mayor

(Pic: Flickr/magerleagues)

(Pic: Flickr/magerleagues)

By John McGarrity

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said progress made by cities in cutting greenhouse gas emissions should encourage national governments to make an increased effort at UN climate talks to agree a new carbon reduction treaty.

Bloomberg, who last week was appointed the UN’s envoy for climate and cities, told reporters that he would encourage support for UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon’s climate summit by showing that emissions cuts can be achievable at relatively low cost.

“I think he (Ban) is probably a little bit frustrated that the nations of the world haven’t come together in Rio+20 (environment summit) and all the others things like that have to be taken to the next step. What he is trying to do is get as much help as he can so at the national level they take the bull by the horns, and really make progress.”

Bloomberg added: “If I can carry the flag for him, and get him a little bit of information and be a spokesman for him, I would really love to do that.”

“There’s nothing inconsistent between what we do at the city level and what he would like to get done at a national level,”  the former New York mayor said.

He was speaking as mayors from 63 cities gathered for a summit in Johannesburg of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which share ideas on emissions-cutting policies such as energy efficient buildings, cycle lanes, greener waste management and expanded mass transit systems.

A report released by C40 today said cities in its network had between them implemented 8,000 measures that could reduce emissions of climate changing gases.

“We can’t do it all but with the UNFCCC (the UN’s climate arm) we can attack the problem at both ends,” Bloomberg told a press conference.

Urban areas account for 70% of global carbon emissions and by mid-century three-quarters of the world’s population is expected to live in an urban area.

At the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012 the network pledged to reduce their total carbon footprint by 250 million tonnes by 2020 and 1 billion tonnes by 2020.

The world emitted around 35 billion tonnes of CO2 from energy sources and industry in 2012, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and without drastic emissions cuts will soon run out of the available carbon it can emit to have even a 50% chance of avoiding runaway climate change.

UN climate talks over the last few year have advanced the notion that countries could propose a wide range of methods to cut emissions to meet targets as part of a ‘pledge and review’ and bottom-up approach that wouldn’t be necessarily legally-binding.

However poor countries say richer nations are doing far too little in cutting climate-changing gases, risking mass droughts, floods and more frequent and destructive storms in future decades.

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