links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At the Mayor’s conference participated also two mayors from Africa – the Mayors of Johannesburg and Addis Ababa. Thanks to questions from the floor this meeting brought out more about the problems of Africa then years of talk at the UN. At SustainabiliTank.info we feel honored to have been able to contribute by asking pointed questions.

—————————–

On Tuesday May 15, 2007, after the Conference Plenary Lunch at the Jumeirah Essex House, Mayor Bloomberg and the other Mayors crossed West 59th Street – its name here Central Park South – into the Central Park. Here a special enclosure for a press conference was established under the bright sun, supported further also by the city-lights that even in pre-climate-change days we thought were intended only for use at night.

While crossing the street, we were able to ask Mayor Bloomberg: “Is it appropriate to ask you what you could do to Green the UN?” To which he answered: “I am trying to Green New York City, I have enough problems here.” But The UN building is in New York City” – I tried a follow up. “Sir, you must go away you are not the Mayor to get into the picture” said a Mayor’s PR handler who was more interested in the TV cameras getting clear shots of the Mayor. Fair enough.

At the Press Conference proper, with 21 mayors on the podium, we counted, the Mayor announces that NYC is the first city in the US to join the Climate Group. London is the only other city in the world that has joined the Climate Group.

The Mayor of Trenton, the present head of the US Mayor’s Association, announced that with Tulsa, Oklahoma, joining that day, the number of US City Mayors that signed the US Climate Protection Agreement, in an effort to combat climate change, has reached the number 500. He praised Mayor Bloomberg for hosting the meeting of the C40, and reminded us that recently, in Paris, experts said that human behavior has to change for climate change not to occur. The 500 mayors are committed to reduce the GHG emissions to levels lower then the requirements under the Kyoto Protocol. He mentioned that at the US Mayor’s Association, Mayor Gregg of Seattle has pushed for this all the time. next month, at the Los Angeles 75th Anniversary celebration of the Mayor’s Association, he hopes that all Mayors will sign onto this agreement. The Austin Mayor nailed this further by saying that Government involvement is needed because we really cannot talk of Global Warming policy without talking Energy Policy.

Mayor Ken Livingstone of London reminded us that the Mayors present on the podium represent 250 million people and that they cannot wait for federal governments to step in – we can start now doing better buildings – for this we do not need new inventions – all what it requires is political will. We can solve the problem of climate change, and it does not require worsening our quality of life.

The first question to the mayor was about Foreign Dignitaries (we assume this is about UN and foreign missions) and Mayor Bloomberg said that the State Department of the US has to come to grips with the concept of reciprocity. “All governments have to obey local laws and this includes congestion charges and traffic tickets.”

Next question was about the electric light that was on right there, above the Mayor, in the bright sun light. At the second attempt at an answer – eventually someone from the Mayor’s office found out that in order to have electricity for the microphones they had to turn lights on – to which the Mayor added that “if it is not the real answer – it shows how creative my press secretary is.”

Asked about a litmus test for the voters, Mayor Bloomberg said that it is hard to see how we can have a policy on Iraq without an energy policy, or how we can have a health policy without looking into causes for asthma in New York. The voters ask what we are going to do and who is going to pay for this.

The Mayor of Melbourne, a former Chinese foreign student that came from Hong Kong to study in Australia and stayed on, addressed the subject of water – the effects of climate change on Australia and many other places being the increase of draught.

 SustainabiliTank.info pursued our interest in what the Mayor could do to assure that the renewal work on the UN Headquarters building in New York will produce a Green UN? The Mayor took off on saying how he loves having the UN headquarters in New York City and that “we will do everything to help them put up a clean building.”

We understood from his cautious answer, and the previous answers, that he has no intent in having his administration do anything beyond providing advice and information about the possibility of the UN building partaking from similar openings as the other buildings that are based in New York, but will this be possible because of the extraterritoriality and outside-tax-system of the UN? Surely the UN building is just as, or even more, polluting in climate change sense, or otherwise, but will the UN be afforded incentives to change if they agree to do the right thing? We were left hanging after this question as we were left hanging after the first question. The subject is thus not closed in our mind and we intend to address this further to the Clinton Foundation.

The Mayor of Toronto told us that his city will be the first to have a zero footprint policy – see Zerofootprint.org We will have a further article on Toronto as we learned more on what this city is doing.

To a question from a Mexican journalist on the air quality of Mexico City, Mayor Bloomberg intervened “if we could only stop exporting guns to Mexico City,” and the Mayor of Mexico City answered that “if we could assure the money, the technology, we have the will to change things. We will take decisions that are necessary and difficult.” The problem, that at the high altitude of Mexico City or Bogota, the more rarified air, lowered oxygen causes worse combustion of motor vehicle fuels and thus higher pollution. These cities have thus much worse conditions then lower altitude cities and the local need for change is obvious for all to see. In both cities, Mexico City and Bogota, both Mayors present at the meeting, changes are taking effect.

————————–

On Thursday May 17, 2007, the final Press Conference of the C40 Large Cities Climate Forum, under the Chairmanship of Mayor Livingstone of London, with the Governor of Bangkok, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, the Mayor of Rotterdam, the Mayor of Seoul, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, the Mayor of Berlin, the Mayor of Salt Lake City, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, the Mayor of Addis Ababa, the Mayor of Mumbai, the Chief Minister of Delhi, the Deputy Mayor of London, in the room, Mayor Livingstone summarized the event and introduced the Mayor of Seoul, Korea, were next meeting will be held in about two years time.

He simply said that now, with $5 billion funding assured for immediate use, there is a lot of talking to go on in order to start doing the things. Berlin, London, Paris, in particular, will start acting in very short time, other places may take longer to organize. There will be meetings on airports, and other working parties of the C40 will be established and he looks at Seoul as the venue of a bigger meeting then those in New York and Paris. He introduced then the Mayor of Seoul who started that he will work closely with the Singapore Secretariat of the Mayors organization and the Clinton Foundation. There is no doubt anymore about the fact that Climate Change is a reality, and that if the mayors unite they can lead to real change.

The fact that the fourth event of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, after meetings in London, Paris, New York, moves now to Asia, and has picked Seoul, Korea, as its next meeting place in about two years, is of high importance. The project, now with funding that was assured by the genius of Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, will lead to projects, realistically speaking, that will become visible within one year. Thus, in two years from now – in 2009 – a meeting in Seoul is of special interest as, let us not forget, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is from that City – and when taking office in new York he said that Climate Change/Global Warming is one of his two highest priorities. We wrote about this many times – that the Secretary-General spoke about Climate Change and the UN staff did not amplify his words. We thought that this was only because of the holdovers at the UN Department of Public Information. We waited for the New Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, the Japanese Diplomat with experience in Climate Change and Sustainable Development to move to New York from his previous position as Director of the OECD in Paris, though we wondered what he meant when he told Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Tokyo, February 20, 2007, his intentions wereto”reinforce information transmission from UN on economic and environmental areas, by strengthening cooperation with institutions such as OECD and IMF.” Then, when he took office he disappointed us in the sense that he seems to be the typical manager who backs his staff, even people that he may perhaps not agree with, but will not reverse any of their decisions, even if those decisions were taken before he assumed office. This does not bode well for a UN that is loaded with appointees from countries that do not have our Common Future at heart, and will not cooperate towards a Common Ground. On the other hand, watching the tremendously increased number of press people from Korea at the UN, it is obvious that the importance of all levels of government in Korea will be very high in the eyes of the Secretary-General. The Mayor of Seoul becomes thus a further vehicle to influence the UN by tying together the economic interests in Seoul in all matters of Climate Change. We followed closely the two presentations the Mayor made – one in a plenary on Tuesday, and his appearance before the press on Thursday. In addition, we were also given quite a bit of literature about what was done, and what is intended for the Seoul Municipality. But on all of this in a later article. Here our intent is simply to say that the choice of Seoul was not just a coincidence – the implications are for the UN, and for the need to have a program for the post-Kyoto time horizon by 2009. The UN may not be an ideal place, but its importance cannot be underestimated and ways to bring about good decisions initiated by member governments cannot be underestimated. It is the capitals that can exert that influence as even diplomats stationed at the UN may have reached a point when they lose interest of trying to influence outcomes.

 SustainabiliTank.info putt forward a question and asked for answers from Mayor Livigstone and to from the Mayor of Addis Ababa. The question was that in light of the April 17, 2007 OPEN DISCUSSION on “Energy, Security, and Climate” initiated by the UK at the UN Security Council, what do Mayor Livingstone and Mayor Deressa think of the subject specially as climate Change has already caused warfare in Africa? Mayor Livingstone answered that “we have taken up on strategy on ports and airports” and we will take on some of these subjects later on.” I clarified that I did not mean Security this way – but the question in the Security Council dealt with things like loss of grazing land because of climate change that led to warfare and killings in Africa.

The Mayor of Addis Ababa, Berhane Deressa, Answered that the trend is real. Climate Change has contributed wars in Africa – there was a war between Ethiopia and Eritrea that started for many reasons and that was part of it. Particularly in Addis Ababa we have 13 months of sunshine that makes for abundant solar energy. The question is how to make a reality of this and to get to knowhow to make this technology available to cities like Addis Ababa.

Further – the AU, ECA are there (the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa), there are many buildings, Embassies, the UN that came to Addis Ababa – only if the world would try to do this it could be a tremendous input, he said. To this Mayor Livingston added: “If we can bring down the cost of PV (photovoltaic) through the governmental decisions – like China government deciding to go with mass production of this.” The information coming in on any such possibility will be made available to others – not just country governments.

{Those were words Mr. Livingstone just took out plainly from Bill Clinton’s mouth – and, my God, absolutely nobody said anything like this at the CSD15 that just failed a week earlier at the UN in New York. See right here at the Mayors meeting – ideas what to do with Africa that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could pick up and present himself to UNDP and the Governments involved i.e. China, perhaps also Korea – see what you can do with this, please. Our comments at the www.SustainabiliTank.info computer right in our office}

When the Press Conference ended, I was able to discuss my questions further with the Mayor of Addis Ababa mentioning that I was never able to get out information at the UN about the January 2007 AU Summit that I intended to attend but the UN did not make it possible. Yes, they discussed climate change and Africa is aware of the implications – the UN was not aware! As a result of this coincidence of having had the opportunity to meet the Mayor, I have now a source of future information. and I am further happy that Africa finally turned up as a topic in the last minutes of the Climate Forum of the 2007 Large Cities Summit.

The following day I found that the METRO New York City edition followed up also with an interview with the Mayor of Addis Ababa. Let us hope that someone at the UN reads these articles – there were some eye openers here. WHY DOES THE UN NOT START BY GREENING ITS OWN BUILDINGS – RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY AND IN ADDIS ABABA – AND ANYWHERE ELSE THERE IS A UN PRESENCE – is this not something that UNEP SHOULD DEMAND FROM THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL?

bloomberg003.gif

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article

###