Friday, June 11, 2010

Cities world over join climate battle

Jayanta Basu in the Telegraph (India): Presidents and Prime Ministers sat and bickered and couldn’t agree, now mayors want a say. Mayors and representatives from more than 50 cities across the world met last month in this German city to demand “a stronger voice and presence in global climate negotiations”, as cities joined the battle to save the earth. Till now, cities have had no role in climate talks.

Nearly 500 participants attended the first World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change, the delegates including the mayors of Howrah and Chennai, and their counterparts from across the globe, as well as environment experts and representatives of funding agencies. “We showcased our climate vision plan which has received extremely favourable responses,” Howrah mayor Mamata Jaisawal said. “Different funding agencies have assured us they would support our plans.”

The Bonn Declaration, released at the end of the congress, said: “Local leadership must be empowered to ensure global climate action (and) cities must have a stronger voice and presence in global climate negotiations.” The declaration also demanded “financial freedom for implementing climate change-related programmes”.

Six months back, several Presidents and Prime Ministers who met at a UN climate summit had failed to finalise strategies to reduce or curb global emissions of greenhouse gases. A political statement from the Copenhagen Summit, however, recognised the need to cap the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050.

The Bonn congress, organised by the non-government organisation ICLEI, the city of Bonn and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change, underlined the need for “adaptation” at the local level. “Climate change is real, global and immediate. Our cities are at risk. Local level adaptation is essential…. Local governments need direct access to financing mechanisms and technical resources from all levels — multilateral, national and local,” the declaration said…

A drowned taxi from a 2007 flood in Jakarta, shot by gajah mada, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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