The letter represents cities’ responsibility to lead in fight against climate change.
This week, world leaders convened at the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, China. G20 (or Group of 20) is an international forum for the governments of 20 major economies to discuss policy issues and promote international financial stability.
Several leaders from nations that attended the Summit used the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the emissions reductions goals they set at another major international Summit last year: the Sustainable Innovation Forum (more commonly referred to as COP21) in Paris.
Boston’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined the mayors of 30 other major cities throughout the world in drafting a letter about the commitments they made in Paris. Each of the Mayors represent a City that is a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. (Photo: Boston's Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space Austin Blackmon at the COP21 Forum in Paris. Credit C40.org)
An immediate threat
As a coastal city, the threat of climate change is serious and immediate for the City of Boston. The City’s climate preparedness program, Climate Ready Boston, identified several ways that climate change will impact Boston - namely sea level rise, extreme precipitation, extreme temperatures, and coastal storms.
The letter, which the Mayors published this week, touches on many of these threats, and explains how important it is that cities lead in the global issue:
“As the G20 Summit meets in Hangzhou this week, we, mayors of the major cities within the G20, call on our national leaders to work with us to build a low carbon, climate safe world…. Achieving such a rapid shift is probably one of the greatest political, economic and practical challenges faced by every national leader, but you do have great allies in this task: we, the mayors of the megacities of the world.” (Photo: map of cities whose mayors' signed the letter.)
Climate action results in multiple quality of life benefits
In 2014, Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston identified more than 100 strategies for achieving its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 in the updated Climate Action Plan. And the City’s climate work focuses on the multiple benefits of climate action. For example, its home energy efficiency program Renew Boston not only helps the City reduce energy consumption, but it also improves quality of life for residents by helping them save money and making their homes more comfortable. Here at Greenovate, we connect Bostonians with resources and a network of environmental leaders to help them cut emissions in their own lives - which makes Boston’s neighborhoods more socially resilient by helping them foster a stronger sense of community and interdependence. The letter from the C40 mayors highlights how important it is to focus on these multiple benefits:
“We have also seen first-hand that our climate action brings significant co-benefits to our communities, from improved public health, cleaner air, faster economic growth and more equity. There is no trade-off between climate action and development: delivering on the Paris Agreement will help us all implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and vice-versa.”
Boston’s international climate leadership
This is just the latest example of the City of Boston’s international leadership on climate action: This summer Mayor Walsh and Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Austin Blackmon attended the US-China Climate Cities Conference in Beijing; in June Chief Blackmon and Environment Commissioner Carl Spector joined other public and business leaders from Boston on the Green Ribbon Commission’s Climate Innovations Study Tour in Northern Europe; and this year the City is gearing up to host the next US-China Climate Cities Conference right here in Boston.
While the fight against climate change will require strong commitments from the entire global community, Boston is demonstrating what climate leadership looks like at the city level.