Thirty major European cities pledge to take on climate change
Representatives from thirty European cities gathered in Paris on Thursday to formalize their commitment to eco-friendly policies and to emphasize the role of major urban centers in the fight against climate change.
Delegates also signed a declaration, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 40 percent by 2030, in line with the European Union’s climate change roadmap, and to use an estimated nearly $11 billion combined purchasing power to invest in green products and services.
In a joint statement published Wednesday in French daily Le Monde, mayors from 26 European cities — including Rome, Athens, Madrid, Geneva, and Stockholm — said they had “decided to join forces and strengthen the instruments that will lead us toward the energy and environmental transition.”
Delegates arrived at the conference in Paris in Autolib’ cars — the French capital’s three-year-old electric car-sharing service — adorned with their national colors.
The conference — a joint initiative by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and her Roman counterpart Ignazio Marino — was also attended by France’s foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius and president François Hollande, who alluded to Europe’s climate and energy targets for 2030.
“The role of European cities […] is to show that it is possible to live and to live well within large urban centers,” said Hollande. “With an urban model that helps tackle climate change.”
In their joint statement, the mayors stressed that solutions for the global problem of climate change are local. “Because large cities are at the crossroads of these two levels, they are at the forefront of the fight against climate change,” they wrote.
In her welcome address, Hidalgo reminded the European representatives in attendance that by 2050, half of the world population will be living in cities, and will be responsible for 70 percent of all carbon emissions.
And while cities have very little influence over the energy sector, or the way in which energy is produced, they do have the power to make a difference by lowering their energy consumption, or investing in green transport and waste disposal technology.
The conference came just one week after Paris topped the charts earning the title of most polluted city in the world, as a cloud of thick smog blanketed the city’s tourist attractions, turning a much-anticipated solar eclipse into a non-event.