By Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40
In September, all eyes were on New York City, which hosted the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit. As part of Climate Week NYC, the summit provided space for several major announcements around the important role that cities have to play in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, including a global Compact of Mayors.
City leaders from around the world attended the summit to share both ambitious plans and on-the-ground successes, establishing a high bar for their counterparts in national governments.
Although many of these plans and programs aim to combat climate change on an international level, smaller individual successes can also teach valuable lessons about how cities can work together. One such example is the new Danish Cleantech Hub, a public-private partnership between Denmark and New York City that will accelerate solutions sharing between the two through a single point of entry for all cleantech activities.
The program is designed to help New York capitalize on Denmark’s technological savvy born out of decades of experience and more than 2,200 cleantech companies. The physical headquarters in New York will give local entrepreneurs, leaders and organizations access to Danish know-how, while providing Danish companies’ entree to the New York marketplace.
Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen emphasizes the value cities can bring to each other: “Copenhagen and New York have a shared focus on sustainable solutions, and to achieve economic growth while tackling climate change, it is critical that cities collaborate with one another.”
In fact, cities often credit successful urban sustainability projects to the collaboration and sharing of ideas among cities – at the recent C40 and Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards, Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle told the other assembled mayors, “I promise you I’ll be stealing your ideas shamelessly.”
This cooperation is a process that the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group aims to facilitate among its 69 member megacities – including New York and Copenhagen, which represent 500 million people and 21 percent of global GDP.
In the case of the Danish Cleantech Hub, the Confederation of Danish Industry and the city of New York connected through the C40 Green Growth Network, an active working group helping cities realize sustainable growth through innovation and technology.
“Climate change is a global challenge that has its biggest impacts at the local level. The C40 Network bridges that gap impeccably, allowing cities to share information about what works best,” says Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “We’re thrilled to welcome the Danish Cleantech Hub to the Urban Future Lab, New York City’s pioneer resiliency technology incubator. A direct result of the C40 process, this collaboration will help NYC and Danish companies solve our climate challenges with the knowledge and expertise of some of Europe’s most forward thinking resiliency experts.”
New York City has recently embraced major investment in clean tech solutions as part of the city’s sustainability initiatives, particularly as the city has ramped up its resiliency efforts in the wake of 2012 super storm Sandy.
About the Author: Mark Watts serves as the Executive Director for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Prior to joining C40, Mark was the Director of Arup’s energy consulting team based in London. Focused on cities and sustainability, he lead Arup’s partnership with the C40 group of cities committed to tackling climate change. Prior to joining Arup as a Director in 2008, he was the climate change and sustainable transport adviser to the Mayor of London, in which role the London Evening Standard described him as “the intellectual force behind Ken Livingstone’s drive to make London a leading light of the battle against global warming.” He led the development of London’s ground-breaking Climate Change Action Plan and the associated programme of projects to reduce London’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2025.