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Posted on on June 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (


Recycling is crucial first step in reducing emissions, says former London mayor Ken Livingston in a visit to an EU Parliament Committee in Brusells: An economic perspective on climate change can convince people to reduce their carbon footprint, the former mayor of London has said.

Ken Livingstone said that highlighting the benefits of saving money by reusing and recycling was an important first step in winning popular support for climate change policies.

“We need to get across to people that almost everything we do can save money,” he told “Basically, it’s all about being more careful and not wasting things.”

Livingstone said that there was a lot to learn from attitudes that prevailed half a century ago. “If you look at my parents’ generation, this approach was their whole ethos,” he said.

Livingstone was in Brussels to speak at the eighth thematic session of parliament’s temporary committee on climate change, on sharing examples of best practice to achieve significant CO2 emissions reductions in the short term.

As mayor of London, Livingstone established the C40 initiative, a collective agreement between 18 cities to take action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, begun in October 2005.

The project was given a boost in August 2006 following a joint partnership between the C40 and the Clinton climate initiative, a business-focused project founded by former US president Bill Clinton.

One initiative under the scheme, the congestion charge in London, has reduced CO2 emissions in the city by 16 per cent.

New York has implemented diesel-electric hybrid buses, and the city authorities in Berlin have developed a project aiming to achieve a 26 per cent reduction (on average) of CO2 emissions for buildings that undergo retrofit tenders.

Livingstone said that getting cities on board was vital to support and encourage the innovative technology aimed at tackling global warming.

“The technology already exists; the next generation of energy efficient tools are already here. What they need is large cities to come and give them the support they need,” he said.

Irish GUE/NGL deputy Bairbre de Brún added that it was important to learn from those cities which had adopted energy-saving policies. “Initiatives taken at the local level can have an impact on national policy,” she said. “Foresight, imagination and political will are what is needed.”

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