On Saturday, negotiators at the Conference of Parties (COP21) U.N. climate talks in Paris adopted a final agreement. We want to thank and congratulate President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry—along with their fellow world leaders—for succeeding in the difficult task of creating and adopting a deal that represents historic and meaningful progress to combat climate change.
The agreement will unlock innovation and investment to reduce emissions and help our communities adapt to climate change. We are far from done, however. Cities generate 80% of the world’s GDP, produce 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and house more than 50% of the world’s population. The agreement’s ultimate success will depend on local leadership.
As mayors, we will redouble our efforts to protect our communities from the profound risks posed by climate change including diminishing air quality, flooding, extreme weather, famine, drought, economic downturn and other impacts. Last week in Paris, more than 500 mayors and municipal representatives from 115 countries gathered at Paris’s City Hall to make clear that cities can and will lead on climate by increasing the energy efficiency of our buildings, expanding renewable energy, adding electric vehicles to our fleets, and leading the search for other solutions besides.
Thanks to the latest additions of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Eugene, Ore., our domestic Mayors National Climate Action Agenda is now 34 mayors strong. Collectively we represent more than 27 million Americans, a mayor-to-mayor initiative that offers a collaborative forum to share best practices and lessons learned. By our example in reporting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we are building political will across the nation. And with this, we are bringing technical innovation, lower utility bills and new green jobs to the residents of our cities.
As “Climate Mayors”, we will implement the new agreement, as we continue to work tirelessly with those we represent to find bigger and bolder ways to combat climate change. We will also continue to push back against Congress’s shortsighted efforts to reverse course, most recently on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. And we will continue to share our ideals globally through our work with the leadership of more than 400 cities worldwide which have signed the Compact of Mayors.
It is by leading on climate action in our cities that we will build a healthier, more prosperous, more competitive America.
Mayor Curtatone has committed to making Somerville a leading city in fighting climate change. His SustainaVille initiative (somervillema.gov/sustainaville) sets a goal for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050 and, as a Massachusetts Green Community, Somerville will reduce municipal energy use by 20 percent of 2011 levels by 2017. The community also set a goal in the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan to have 50 percent of all new trips by transit, walking or biking by 2030.
To reach those goals, Mayor Curtatone has launched a number of efforts, including the widely recognized Somerville GreenTech program to pilot early-stage green technologies (somervillema.gov/greentech). Somerville is currently undertaking a greenhouse gas inventory that is Global Protocol for the Community-scale (GPC) compliant, replacing more than 4,000 high pressure sodium outdoor lighting fixtures with LEDs, and has purchased the City’s first four all-electric fleet vehicles and installed electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
In addition to the MNCAA, which commits U.S. mayors to working together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policymaking, Mayor Curtatone currently serves as a member of the Metro Boston Climate Preparedness Commitment and is a member of the international Compact of Mayors. The Compact is a global cooperative effort among more than 100 mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing resilience to climate change, and tracking progress transparently.