Mayors continue to play vital role leading into COP | U.S. Green Building Council
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For two weeks in December, the world will gather in Paris for COP21, or the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, to negotiate a global agreement on climate change. As Secretary Kerry and Special Envoy Bloomberg recently wrote, “Mayors have already helped set the stage for success in Paris, by establishing models of cooperation that provide a strong foundation for the negotiations.”

Through the Compact of Mayors, cities around the world have committed to substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cities participating in the compact have adopted a common measurement system and a public reporting process to ensure accountability. 

Cities are heavily invested in the outcomes of the negotiations at COP21, as urban areas are home to over half of the global population. The majority of future population growth is also expected to occur in cities. It's estimated that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. 

Earlier this month, Secretary Kerry and Special Envoy Bloomberg welcomed several mayors from around the world to the United States for the Our Cities, Our Climate working sessions and luncheon, a joint initiative between the Department of State and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Sustainability directors from participating foreign cities engaged through the sharing of best practices, as well as tours of developments in San Francisco, Boston and Washington, DC. On the afternoon of Oct. 8, the foreign dignitaries were given a tour by the DC government.

“The District government had the privilege of being one of the host cities for the Our Cities, Our Climate global exchange,” said Bill Updike, Chief, Green Building and Climate Branch Urban Sustainability Administration, District Department of Energy & Environment. “We were able to share some of the innovations that we are working on, and learn about the impressive efforts being done in cities around the world.” He went on to observe that global cities are the source of “brilliant ideas that are creating jobs, saving citizens’ money, and helping the planet heal all at the same time. Here in DC, we shared our stories of climate action and adaption planning and green building policies and programs, and took the exchange participants on a tour of some of the cutting-edge work that DC is doing around green infrastructure.” 

"We showed them Canal Park, one of the world’s first parks that treats stormwater at the neighborhood scale, as well as other green infrastructure installations," Updike elaborated. "We explained our first-of-its-kind stormwater retention credit program and some of the leading work that DC Water is doing to clean up the Anacostia. And we brought them to the Earth Conservation Corps, one of the best organizations in DC that is making a substantial connection between social justice and environmental justice, and turning social, economic and environment challenges into opportunities for the folks in DC who need them the most."

A group of U.S. mayors also took part in the sessions, including Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum. A long-standing advocate of climate action, Mayor Appelbaum is also a member of the Local Climate Leaders Circle, a Resilient Cities for America (RC4A) initiative. Led by RC4A’s steering committee (ICLEI USANLCWWF and USGBC), the initiative will bring 12 U.S. mayors and local elected officials to Paris for COP21 to show their support for a strong global agreement on climate change.

Stay tuned for more on USGBC's work leading up to COP, and to learn more about actions being taken in cities around the world, check out the Green Building City Market Briefs—a collaborative project between USGBC, C40 and World GBC