Cities, especially coastal ones like Boston, have an enormous stake in addressing climate change. We know our communities cannot wait. So we’re listening, acting on the local level and sharing lessons learned internationally to accelerate progress. Here’s what the City of Boston is doing to support the Paris Climate Accord.
Earlier this month at COP21, the world came together and agreed to significantly shift how we address climate change by signing the Paris Accord (read the full text here). The historic agreement is no small feat. However, there is more work to be done, particularly by cities, before the agreement goes into effect in 2020.
Cities are on the front lines of the climate change battle. Urban policy decisions between now and 2020 could determine one third of the remaining global carbon budget that keeps us on pace to prevent increasingly severe consequences. Although Boston is a global climate leader, we have a lot to learn from other cities. We’re also eager to help others start their climate planning efforts by sharing lessons learned. That’s why I was part of the delegation from the City of Boston that attended COP21, where we were able to connect with leaders across the globe who are committed to addressing the current and future challenges of climate change.
Through our involvement in C40, we constantly exchange ideas with other cities about creative and effective action that is already happening. In Paris, we joined over 450 cities who attended COP21. Among those, we were deeply honored to accept an award for our community engagement work for initiatives like Greenovate Boston, Renew Boston, and our partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission. This award really belongs to you because it underscores the importance of your actions — at home, at work, at school, in your community — wherever you’re doing climate action, it matters. We are lucky to have the support of a proud, caring, and passionate community in Boston.
Photo credit: C40. Accepting the C40 Award with Mayor Walsh’s Chief of Staff, Daniel Koh (left), and Mayor Paes of Rio de Janeiro (right).
This moment is both timely and necessary to the work Boston is already doing to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We continue to build off of the Climate Action Plan that you helped to create. In 2016, we will identify actions and policies to further protect our city from severe weather and sea level rise through Climate Ready Boston 2.0, an initiative led by the new Environment Commissioner Carl Spector and supported by our Climate Preparedness Fellow, Mia Goldwasser. We’re exploring exciting opportunities in energy (stay tuned), as well as how open space fits into our climate action goals. Finally, we are continually collaborating with other City agencies to help shape a sustainable and prepared Boston through ongoing initiatives like Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years.
Although COP21 focused on addressing climate change, we were struck by the passion, poise, and leadership shown by Mayor Hidalgo of Paris, who hosted the event despite the recent attacks there. As a Boston resident who attended the 2013 Marathon and watched our city emerge stronger after the bombing, it was a somber honor to present Paris with the condolence book from the City of Boston and Mayor Walsh, with prayers and well wishes from our community.
The memorials I saw in Paris were a reminder of another challenge the international community is continuing to address. However, COP21 and the Paris Climate Accord demonstrated that despite our differences in language, religion or ethnicity, with enough coordination, we can bind together and confront global problems like climate change. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of our leadership and working with you to help the City meet its climate and sustainability goals. Together we will continue to make Boston a thriving, healthy, and innovative city.