Cities can help win climate fight

While the UN climate talks in December failed to reach the headline global agreement environmentalists were after, Mayors and other city leaders from around the world made a quiet commitment to address sustainability issues on a more local level.

Sandy Taylor, head of climate change and sustainability at Birmingham City Council, was one of those at the Denmark meetings where leaders representing 750,000,000 urban dwellers in almost 100 cities agreed to take action on their own doorsteps.

Speaking at Sustainable Business, the Event on Tuesday, he said European cities had grown on the back of cheap energy from fossil fuels and needed to learn how to decarbonise.

“Cities have a role to play,” he said.

“We need to look at how they consume resources and also how they can use what is available for them to generate energy – we need to look at solar, biomass and ground and heat source.”

He said that looking at the buildings was an obvious way for cities to address their greenhouse gas emissions, outlining Birmingham’s own plans to retrofit six to eight thousand homes with PV and solar thermal.

Not only did this cut carbon, he said, but also created employment opportunities.

“It’s a beginning,” he said.

“But that leaves us with the question of what we’re going to do with the other 450,000 properties in the city, and that’s going to take public/private partnership.”

He said cities should also look to creating a more sustainable transport system, which would require using new information channels made available with the internet as well making sure that the improved services were there on the ground to make it a viable option for people to think twice before climbing into the car.

“Cities have got an enormous role,” he said.

“And cities are going to have to deal with the legacy of a carbon based infrastructure.”

Sam Bond

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