Copenhagen: Looking Back

Environmental news outlets (and many other sources) are now awash in reflections on the Copenhagen climate talks that wrapped up last Friday. Who said what? How does everyone feel about it? What are we going to do now? Finding answers to these questions can be overwhelming with all of the information out there. Grist has a great feed on a variety of different types of articles. For those looking to get an idea of what happened, this article is a good start.

Mayors Compare Notes on Climate

Mayor Nickels, shown here planting a tree at Green Seattle Day, is attending the cities summit in Copenhagen

Starting today, around 80 of the world’s mayors and local leaders are meeting in Copenhagen for a five-day Climate Summit for Mayors  to underscore the need for local action and to get together to compare notes.  Copenhagen’s own lord mayor Ritt Bjerregaard talked up her city’s extensive bike lanes but voiced the need to get away from coal power and expand the subway system. New York City has been making efforts to reduce traffic and encourage energy efficiency in buildings, but has met resistance from real-estate interests. Sao Paulo, Brazil has reduced its emissions by 20% since 2005 by generating biogas energy from landfills instead of releasing the waste methane into the air.

An article was published today in the LA Times on the opening of the cities summit, reporting that “last week, the IEA [International Energy Agency]’s executive director, Nabuo Tanaka, said local authorities “have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” through renewable energy and other means. “Yet relatively few are taking up the challenge,” he said.”

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the founder of the U.S. Mayors climate movement, will be chairing a round-table session on citizen engagement in climate protection, according to another article in Earth Times.

Speaking of citizen engagement in climate protection, think globally of Copenhagen, act locally by volunteering with your nearest Green City Partnership.

Thinking about Copenhagen

photo by Erica Simek

Did you think we were going to let a whole week go by without mentioning it?

Another great article posted yesterday on City Parks Blog talks about the link between cities, city parks, and climate. It’s on the radar in the international conference on global warming going on right now in Copenhagen. “In a session this week there on reducing carbon through public transit, an official from Portland’s Tri-Met spoke of how cities need to be “places where people want to be” for transit to work. A session next Thursday will highlight efforts to create sustainable communities and another from the perspective of U.S. city mayors” (led by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels).

We’re talking about denser, more walkable, livable, better-planned cities. Complete, compact, connected. The City Parks Blog article cites a lot of interesting infrastructure in cities around the country, from St. Paul to New Orleans to Portland to New York.

For more news from Copenhagen, check out Grist’s running commentary, and a graphic representation on who’s at the conference, and what they’re after, from the New York Times.