Edmonton climate change conference closes with call for action to other cities
More than 800 politicians, scientists and academics attended the multi-day meeting
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An international gathering of experts that wrapped up in Edmonton Wednesday ended with a call for cities to get on board with the fight against climate change.
Scientific and political leaders from around the world committed to a global research agenda to fight climate change on Wednesday, on the final day of the Cities Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conference.
More than 800 municipal leaders, scientists and academics attended the three-day event.
The agenda will serve as a blueprint for how cities can play a greater role in helping countries meet the targets set out within the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, by bringing together the knowledge of scientists and municipal leaders.
The conference also saw 10 urban and scientific organizations release a joint statement on how they will work together to implement the agenda.
Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities, a climate change action group who was one of the 10 organizations to commit to the agreement, said the conference was perhaps the first “really big step” in getting municipalities involved in the fight against climate change.
“This has been a real milestone in creating an enhanced understanding of the impacts of climate change at the urban level and the role of cities in the implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Watts said.
“And I think it’s really laid a really strong foundation for much better-informed climate decision making at the local level,” he added.
Among the calls for action included in the agenda are better evidence-based information, a greater effort to strengthen partnerships between scientists and policy makers and to get everyday citizens more engaged on the issue.
Cities must lead the global effort
The City of Edmonton announced a declaration reaffirming their commitment to adhere to “good scientific policy”, calling on other cities to join their efforts.
“This declaration will be one proud legacy for Edmonton … To renew our own commitment to (reducing emissions) with our city council … and to be able to call forth that same commitment from other cities all across the world ultimately,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
He added that the declaration would allow the city to make a stronger stand when it attends the Local Governments for Sustainability World Congress event in Montreal in June. More details on the declaration are slated for release on Friday.
During a keynote discussion between Iveson and former Toronto mayor David Miller, who is now the C40 Ambassador for Inclusive Climate Action, the two discussed how a lack of effort on reducing greenhouse gas emissions leads to further challenges for cities, especially when it comes to preparing for large-scale natural disasters.
“Mayors are paying attention to this not for any philosophical reason, but for a very practical reason … all around the world cities are seeing an increasing frequency and severity of storms,” Miller said.
Iveson said the city has already had to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in boosting their drainage system to deal with massive floods, which are becoming more and more common.
“Inaction is already injuring the economy … It’s debatable that the wildfires we’ve seen and will continue to see are part of the cost of inaction,” he said. “The flood events we’ve seen and continue to see are part of the cost of inaction.”
Diana Urge-Vosatz, IPCC Working Group 3 Vice-Chair, from Central European University, said the conference revealed to her that scientists need to make their work more accessible to municipal leaders to get them on board with the global agenda.
“This is not the end of the journey, just the beginning of the hard work. Now we are going to take all that you have generated, the knowledge and the questions, and we are going to synthesize that into the research agenda.”