Mayors from around the world are gathering at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to discuss climate change. It's an effort to figure out how to combat climate change on a local level, and how to figure out what works.
It's part of the "Our Cities, Our Climate" initiative, a partnership between the State Department and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and it comes ahead of Paris climate talks in early December.
Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with Bloomberg Philanthropies founder and former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, who is the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. Hobson also speaks with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
What can be done at the city level to combat global climate change?
Michael Bloomberg: “Cities are where most of climate change problems are, and originate from. We either use the energy that’s generated elsewhere that has a climate impact or we actually create greenhouse gases in the cities. The reason for that is that’s where the majority of the public lives - they’re moving more and more towards cities, so you have to look to the mayors to make the progress more than federal and state governments, because that’s where the problems are.”
Gregor Robertson: “The biggest emissions in cities come from buildings and transportation, so in Vancouver we’re very focused in having the greenest building code in North America. We’ve cranked up the standards so every site we re-zone for new development has to be above a LEED Gold standard of construction and that’s shifting to zero emission buildings in 2020 so we can push energy efficiency, making sure we’re using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels to heat the buildings in the city, as well as looking at transportation shifts – we’ve shifted over half of our population into bicycles, walking and [public] transit, out of cars. The minority now drives in cars, and we’re accelerating that shift by making sure the infrastructure's good, the investments are made in alternative transportation that’s clean.”
On convincing people of climate change and the need to address it
Michael Bloomberg: “The truth of the matter is we just went through – 2014 was the hottest year on record, 2015 is shaping up to be even hotter. I mean the facts are just there. And I will say I think it’s up to Bloomberg News and up to NPR and up to all news organizations to, when they report, not just pander and look for inches and minutes and advertising, or an audience in the case of NPR, you have a responsibility to put things in context and say ‘scientists who have won Nobel Prizes say this’ and ‘elected officials or people who aspire to lead us do or do not have credibility and experience,’ and when you do that there’s just no question about what is going on.”
Gregor Robertson: “I think the vast majority of people around the world have moved on. They know climate change is real. Global warming is happening and the impacts are being felt, and arguably the most conservative organizations in the world from the military to financial institutions – everyone’s planning for massive change around the world, and that presents all sorts of challenges. It also creates great opportunities. The biggest booms we’re seeing right now economically are with clean technology and renewable energy. We’re seeing massive investments, trillions of dollars, shifting into the green economy, frankly to capitalize the opportunity and to future proof these organizations.”
This segment aired on October 8, 2015.