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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Cities at the climate change frontline
02 June 2009 / 03:20

[Dateline: Nairobi | Author: UN-HABITAT]Third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit (Credit: UN-HABITAT)

The Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Anna Tibaijuka, and former US President Bill Clinton last month joined delegates from cities around the world to press home the message that action on climate change must be implemented in cities.


They were participating in the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit held in Seoul from 19 to 21 May. The meeting brought together mayors, company executives and leaders from 40 cities and 17 affiliate municipalities across the globe. Delegates to the three-day conference traded advice and shared experiences on working towards a green world.


The former United States President who runs the Clinton Climate Initiative, which develops programmes to help cities cut the emissions blamed for global warming, warned of dire consequences if cities did not enact policies to mitigate the problem.  "We know that if we don't reduce greenhouse gases by somewhere in the range of 80 percent by 2050, bad things are going to happen," Mr. Clinton said in a keynote speech.


He stated that the good practices shared among the C40 members would advance the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, adding that in the current economic crisis it was crucial to invest wisely.  


According to the former president, for every USD 1 billion invested in building and construction in the United States, 870 jobs were created. It was therefore possible today for economies to grow without emitting greenhouse gases, he said, urging the world to act now to cut emissions.  


In her speech, Ms. Tibaijuka said it was no coincidence that global climate change had become a leading international development issue at the same time that the world has become urbanized. “The way we plan, manage, operate and consume energy in our cities is the key driver behind the phenomenon of global warming,” she stated, adding that 75 percent of global energy consumption occurs in cities - roughly half of this comes from burning fossil fuels for urban transport.  


Urban transportation, she said, is the planet’s fastest growing source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. “As most cities manage urban transport, this is the single most important area where wisely invested city budgets can make the biggest contribution in continued climate change mitigation,” stated the UN-HABITAT head.


Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, many UN agencies had worked hard to reduce impacts of climate change and to raise public awareness.  “I appreciate the participating mayors’ commitment and kindly ask for their further cooperation to join our activities,” urged the Executive Director.