Michael Bloomberg Says Cities Must Now Lead The Way On Climate Change
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope
Outside of Washington, D.C., however, the prospects for climate action look more favorable. You can point to what’s happening at the city level, where mayors are promoting low-carbon buildings, electric cars, and more resilient infrastructure. You can point to the energy industry in general, which seems more concerned with market signals than political signals. And you can point to how strong majorities of Americans want politicians to accept and face up to global warming.
In their new book, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, argue that a beyond-D.C. approach offers the best opportunity for dealing with climate change. Mayors have more autonomy than national leaders, they say. They’re more accountable to voters for dealing with climate-related problems like pollution and extreme weather events. They originate most of the emissions that cause climate change, and they face the greatest threats from its impacts. And urban populations are generally more supportive of climate action than rural ones.
“Mayors tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators, because they are more accountable to voters, and more visible,” former New York City Mayor Bloomberg writes. “The public can see what mayors do, while it’s harder to understand what elected officials at the state level do . . . and much harder at the federal level.”
Empower Cities To Lead
If cities are going to be centers of climate action, they need more tools for the job. “Giving more cities authority to take action on their own–particularly on energy and transportation–is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change,” Bloomberg writes in the book.
If the Trump administration decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says U.S. cities should consider joining the accord in their own capacity. “Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S.–mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year.
That independence could also include allowing them to make choices independent of state or federal authority on where they buy electricity (only six states currently sanction this). Twenty-five U.S. cities have now committed to buy all their power from renewable sources.
Or it could mean borrowing money for climate investments more easily. Only 4% of the world’s cities currently have their own credit ratings, enabling them to enter financial markets, Pope says. Others don’t have the power to raise taxes, including many in Africa and South America.
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