By Ryme Khairi
By Ryme Khairi
Paris- On Friday 4th December, major cities from all over the world engaged in their own brand of diplomacy. On the sidelines of UN climate change conference (COP21), over 1,000 mayors gathered at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders at Paris City Hall.
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of the City of Paris and Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and current UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, co-hosted this historic convening of local leaders.
According to the UN, cities are home to more than half of the world’s population (54%) and that number is expected to reach 66% by 2050.
Fully aware of these alarming aspects of climate change, mayors gathered to demand bold action and pledged to “support ambitious long-term climate goals such as a transition to 100% renewable energy in our communities, or an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050.”
COP 21’s most important figures also attended the event. French President François Hollande urged mayors to continue to get involved in fighting climate change because they constitute a “a principal player ” in this fight.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged regional and local officials to keep up their actions. “Your efforts enable your citizens to reduce their carbon footprint, breathe cleaner air and live more healthy lives, you know, from the ground up, how important it is to translate words into action. Your example can inspire national governments to act more boldly,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Celebrities attending the event included UN Messenger of Peace for the Climate, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Oscar-winning director Robert Redford. Both advocated for climate change, and have been supporting UN efforts to build a sustainable future for years.
“Climate change is the most fundamental and existential threat to our species. The consequences are unthinkable, and worse, it has the potential to make our planet unlivable” said DiCaprio.
“Our world leaders are here in Paris in an effort to finalize a global agreement 20 years in the making, to finally address the very real threat that climate change poses to our planet,” he continued.
“Please do not let fear and doubt slow you down. Be bold, be courageous, do everything in your power to change our current course, be brave and courageous,” DiCaprio told mayors.
Robert Redford, long-time environment campaigner and trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, urged head of states to rely on mayors for the fight against climate change. “Mayors are less political, they are on the ground,” he said.
Among the voices heard during the Summit, only one local leader from the Arab world expressed his thoughts.
“We have to change and adapt ourselves to climate change,” said Amman city’s mayor Aqel Biltaji.
In other words, human social capital is essential for the global fight against climate change. He went on to point out that there are many Quran verses about environmental protection, which emphasize that the protection of the environment is the duty of every Muslim.
The summit ended with the signature of a historic declaration on climate change in which cities and region’s leaders said “solemnly that climate change is our common challenge and that advancing climate solutions is a shared responsibility, and a matter of rights, equality and social justice. An effective, global response to climate change presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century, will protect public health, and strengthen sustainable development mindful of human rights and women’s empowerment.”
Mayors also committed to reducing urban greenhouse gas emissions their cities by up to 3.7 gigatons by 2030 in. Let’s hope this historic initiative will resolve half of the global climate equation…