United States President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping recently signed an historic deal setting the groundwork for both countries to make significant strides to halt global climate change*. The deal represents unprecedented collaboration between the two nations on climate, yet the agreement does not outline a comprehensive plan to achieve the agreed-upon reductions – which is where cities come in.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently delivered a speech at Peking University in Beijing on how U.S. and Chinese cities will be integral partners in realizing these goals, and how cities like Los Angeles and Beijing are already collaborating on solutions.
“After all,” said Mayor Garcetti, “when our presidents promise to drastically limit carbon emissions, they are talking about limiting carbon emissions in major cities. They make the pledge, but then it is up to us to make the change.”
Mayor Garcetti outlined some of the ways that Los Angeles and Beijing are already contributing to their countries’ national goals by realizing emissions reductions and cleaning up environmental problems at a local level. He also encouraged continued collaboration and information sharing between the cities – a central tenet of C40’s work.
For instance, Mayor Garcetti explained the steps Los Angeles has taken to reduce urban air pollution, including implementing government programs, engaging citizens, investing in renewable technologies and developing public private partnerships. These actions have had the added benefit of contributing to the economic vitality of the city – a point also highlighted in the recent New Climate Economy report Better Cities, Better Climate.
“We have beautiful sunny days with clear skies throughout the year,” said Mayor Garcetti. “And while there remains more work to be done, this success hasn’t come with an economic cost. Quite the contrary, cleaning up our air has produced a healthier economy, just as it has produced a healthier city.”
Mayor Garcetti is also a member of U.S. President Obama’s Climate Task Force, and was recently elected member of the global Steering Committee of C40. In September 2014, Mayor Garcetti also launched the Mayors’ National Climate Agenda, focused on U.S. cities, with Mayor Annise Parker of Houston and Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia.
To read the full speech, click here.
To read a statement on the US-China agreement from C40 Board President and 108th Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg, click here.
*Specifically, the United States agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 percent of 2005 by 2025, while China will increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030.