Last week, I attended the Carbon Neutral Cities Initiative meeting on behalf of the City of Boston in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was an opportunity for me to highlight Boston’s great efforts in preparing for climate impacts, and also to learn about best practices and innovative strategies for climate action planning from other leading cities around the world.

In April, Boston joined the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40)—a global network of nearly 70 cities committed to addressing climate issues. The Carbon Neutral Cities Initiative is a new collaboration among C40 cities including Berlin, Boulder, Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Minneapolis, New York, Oslo, Portland , San Francisco, Seattle, Stockholm, Sydney, Vancouver, Washington D.C., and Yokohama. This initiative is designed to engage “leading-edge” cities in exploring strategies and actions for achieving aggressive and long-term carbon reduction goals.

While cities are making the commitment to taking climate actions, the common challenge for many remains in the “how” to achieve such long-term and deep carbon reduction. And so, the purpose of this meeting was to share best practices and approaches, and also to explore among participating cities potential partnerships and collaborative efforts for advancing climate action planning and effective implementation. Participating cities identified the following key areas of collaboration:

  • Sharing and implementing best practices among “leading-edge” cities on carbon reduction strategies, in order to advance “transformative change” in key urban sectors, including transportation, energy use, and waste systems.
  • Identifying and advocating for policy change at the state, regional, and federal levels to address and reduce emission sources not controlled directly by cities.
  • Developing standardized methodologies to enhance carbon reduction analysis and progress tracking.

It was also agreed among participating cities that effective implementation strategies will require fundamental transformation of many core urban systems, development of new technologies, as well as leadership and robust partnerships among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in cities.

As Boston continues developing aggressive strategies for long-term planning and development, opportunities such as this to engage and collaborate with other “leading-edge” cities from around the world will further enhance our city’s ability and readiness to respond to the changing climate. This event was an opportunity for me to share the robust climate efforts which Boston has taken thus far, but at the same time, reaffirmed the amount of work the City still needs to do in order to achieve the 80% emission reduction goal by 2050.

And here are a few photos from my trip:

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(Meetings were hosted at the Dome of Vision - a contemporary design that aimed to optimize energy usage and incorporated sustainable construction materials.BU)

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(See Copenhagen like the locals do! Bycyklen is Copenhagen's first e-bike share program. These e-bikes have "smart"features including a touch screen tablet computer on the handlebars with built in GPS for finding docking stations, public transit, and tourists spots such as museums and restaurants.)

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(Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the 8 House is a 61,000 square meter mixed-use building, combining different residential housing types alongside with retail and office spaces. Two sloping green roofs (seen here) are positioned to reduce urban heat island effect and at the same time create the project’s strong visual identity. The 8 House won the Scandinavian Green Roof Award in 2010)


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