Year 3, Month 6, Day 30: Burning Disappointment

Four dozen of the world’s largest cities have taken steps to cut 248 million tons of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, according to a report issued Tuesday, an announcement aimed at demonstrating that environmental progress can continue in the absence of a broad international climate agreement.

The news, which New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will deliver along with Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes at this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, highlights the fractured policymaking landscape that defines environmental issues today. While more than 130 world leaders will try to hammer out a negotiated statement in Rio by week’s end about their sustainable development goals, many of the concrete steps are being taking by community leaders.

“We’re not arguing with each other about emissions targets,” Bloomberg told reporters in a teleconference Monday. “What we’re doing is going out and making progress.”

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — a network of 59 cities, including Los Angeles; Tokyo; Bogota, Colombia; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — was launched in 2005 to provide support for mayors hoping to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in urban centers across the globe. The group analyzed data from 48 cities to determine a suite of policies that are now in place to cut 248 million tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of taking 44 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year.

As usual, the conference has fucked the duck. Sent June 19:

The world’s cities have an enormous role to play in the fight against climate change, and the work of the C40 Cities group in setting up realistic frameworks for greenhouse emissions reductions demonstrates what people can do once they focus their attention on the urgency of the problem.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Rio climate conference as a whole. The Rio+20 Earth Summit’s negotiating text is an embarrassment to its authors and to the participating nations, demonstrating conclusively (as if further proof were needed) the extent to which the economic power of multinational corporations has hindered the development of climate solutions.

Meaningful strategies for coping with the climate crisis will range in scale from individual/local to collective/planetary. There’s much that cities and towns can do to prepare — but without committed leadership at the international level, we’ll never be able to mobilize our resources fully and completely.

Warren Senders

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