by Nic Esposito
(Nic Esposito, the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Director, is reporting from from the Climate 40 (C40) Cities World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens.)
Today is the final day of the C40 World Mayors Summit and I’ll be returning home tomorrow filled with optimism. As Al Gore asked when he revved everyone up at Thursday’s Keynote, “Will we do what’s right to address the climate crisis?” He reiterated that the science is clear and there is no choice but to act.
The plenary sessions yesterday and today were a treasure trove of ideas and creativity so I wanted to use my final blog to share some ideas and inspiration that I gleaned from the sessions.
Through my work with the C40 Waste 2 Resources Network I have already been collaborating with Tel Aviv’s staff in the waste management sector. So I was interested to hear remarks from the city’s mayor, Ron Huldai. He said that a major influence on his sustainability policy was his childhood spent on a kibbutz and that he wanted to use the kibbutz principles of resilience, collectivism and reverence for nature as policy drivers for his city.
Once again, Kate Raworth drove home the message in “Doughnut Economics” of trying to create an economy that puts society in the sweet spot of consumption while addressing the social problems in the hole of the doughnut and our environmental crisis outside of the doughnut. She also reminded us that the etymology of the word economics is Greek for “management of the household” and right now our global house is on fire.
I also listened to Portland, OR, Mayor Ted Wheeler who was on a panel on sustainable consumption. He explained that, in 2015, Portland did a consumption-focused carbon assessment on the city and found that goods produced outside of the city had double the carbon footprint than goods produced in the city. While Mayor Wheeler agreed with the Thriving Cities analysis that over-consumption in cities is massively contributing to the climate crisis, he also acknowledged that people in the “hole” of Raworth’s doughnut lack basic necessities, and offered many ways Portland is doing this sustainably through repair cafés, a deconstruction ordinance and lending libraries.
Governor Robert Beugré Mambé of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, spoke of the eco-village inside his city that the government is supporting. Mayor Giuseppe "Beppe" Sala of Milan noted that his government is giving tax breaks to restaurants that rescue food. And activist Jamie Margolin of the youth climate group Zero Hour reminded us of the power of youth at the center of climate activism and the inherent racism in the climate crisis.
The conference closed today with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her first speaking engagement outside the U.S. since joining Congress. She said that there is no middle ground on the climate crisis—we are either going to address it or we’re not. She reminded us that the heart of the U.S. Green New Deal is economic justice, peace and economic prosperity, because changing society for the better is the most sustainable thing we can do. She closed by saying that the work of every human is to advance society rather than move it backwards, and she paraphrased Franklin Roosevelt’s call to action when he launched the New Deal that the time to act is now because the people demand action.
It has been a pleasure sharing this experience with Grid readers over the past view days. Thanks for reading and continue to look for more updates on social media by following #TheFutureWeWant.