This is an opinion piece by Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago; Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco; and Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.
Throughout history, cities have been centers of innovation, progress and revolution—places where the future happens first.
Yet our cities are facing unprecedented threats because of climate change. The devastation caused by Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma to Puerto Rico, Houston, Miami and the Caribbean are just a taste of the climate-related shocks we can expect in the years ahead.
As mayors of three of the world’s great cities – Chicago, Paris and San Francisco – we are well aware of the challenges ahead. Cities are taking immediate and unprecedented action around the world to face the urgency of the situation. Research by the C40 network of cities revealed that delivering on the ambition of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will require the world’s megacities to peak emissions as soon as 2020.
"Despite the false promises from President Trump, the shift from coal to renewable energy is unstoppable and it is creating thousands of new green jobs each year."
Despite these daunting challenges, our innovative and creative residents are determined to create a better and more sustainable world. Our cities and others across the globe are making possible the world of tomorrow, today.
Despite the false promises from President Trump, the shift from coal to renewable energy is unstoppable and it is creating thousands of new green jobs each year. The next generation of vehicles on our roads will be electric or hydrogen. The cities of the future will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. As a result, the air we breathe will be cleaner, the roads will be safer, our economies will be stronger and our lives will be healthier.
The transformation of our cities is already underway. Just last month, Chicago, Paris and San Francisco were among the first 15 cities to launch C40’s Reinventing Cities scheme, a global contest calling for architects, urban planners, developers, environmentalists, artists, residents and others to transform underutilized sites into the new beacons of sustainable life.
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In Chicago, for instance, the East Garfield Park site comprises a series of vacant lots, which could be transformed to provide new areas for recreation, urban gardening or businesses that will drive economic revitalization. Paris is looking for proposals for three new pedestrian and green bridges over the Seine where Parisians and visitors can enjoy the river from a new perspective. In San Francisco, the transformation of the Civic Center, directly opposite City Hall, will provide community housing and revitalize a 4,000 square foot community garden.
These are just a few examples of how the mayors of the world’s great cities are leading the way on climate change. Around the world, cities are setting more ambitious emissions reductions targets than their nation states. Since President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, cities, states and business have mobilized to fill the gap. At the recent COP23 climate negotiations held in Bonn, Germany, California Governor Gerry Brown and Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, released the ‘America’s Pledge’ report. It captures and quantifies commitments made by cities, states and businesses that collectively represent more than half the U.S. economy and population. They have all declared their support for the Paris Agreement and have signed on to the “We Are Still In” declaration.
On December 6, we met in Chicago for the North American Climate Summit in concert with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Alongside our fellow mayors from across the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond, we will sign the Chicago Climate Charter, committing to sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while expanding economic opportunity and improving quality of life in our cities.
Around the world, cities are setting more ambitious emissions reductions targets than their nation states.
The scale of the challenge is huge but the benefits will be immense. We call on our fellow mayors, as well as businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors and concerned resident from every city around the world to help us push the boundaries of what is possible. Now is the moment to seize that spirit of innovation, progress and revolution that makes our cities great. Our cities are ready to shape the century ahead.
Make a difference in your city or town by telling your mayor that you're ready for them to commit to 100 percent renewable energy. Tell them to show their support for 100 percent clean energy now. Take action today to make an impact on tomorrow.