May 19, 2009

Clinton Urges World’s Cities To Protect Planet

Leaders of the world's cities heard from former US President Bill Clinton at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, where he urged them to act swiftly to save the planet for their grandchildren, The AFP reported.

Executives from the 40 largest cities plus 17 affiliate municipalities, which produce over two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, attended the summit in Seoul, the third such event since 2005.

Clinton's own Climate Initiative develops programs to help cities cut the emissions blamed for global warming. He called for commitments and concrete action from many of the nation's leaders.

"You do not have the luxury of just debating what we are going to do and how much money we are going to spend on it," Clinton said in a keynote speech.

High prices in food shortages, drought and public health dangers were just a few of the hazards Clinton warned the summit about should the world fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Clinton stated: "It is absolutely certain (that) if we let the worst happen, then the consequences will be so severe that we won't be able to save the planet for our grandchildren unless we are willing to undertake enormously expensive projects which can now be avoided."

The former President cited UN statistics that showed half the world's population lived in cities last year and that figure is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050.

Major cities create more than two-thirds of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions despite occupying just two percent of the world's land mass.

Clinton told a press conference that the issue of how cities "find a way to continue to thrive and prosper while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the central questions in the whole struggle."

The Clinton initiative is focused on creating communities that can both provide a "greater quality of life" and generate "more clean energy than they use".

However, finding balanced ways to combat climate change is within reach, according to Mayor David Miller of Toronto, who chairs this year's summit.

Miller said the summit could demonstrate not only how to fight greenhouse gas emissions but how to also build green sustainable neighborhoods, create green jobs and contribute back to the fight against climate change.

"To continue the momentum, all cities must be resolute in working together. It's not a matter of choice but necessity," he added.

Seoul, the South Korean capital, has pledged to develop a pilot residential and industrial district that would use 20 percent less energy than the national average and cut carbon emissions by more than 40 percent, according to Seoul Mayor Oh Se-Hoon.

New technologies and renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic, solar and geothermal energy would be used to fulfill the commitment, Oh said.


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