Strangely and sadly, you won’t find this development covered much in the US news media, but it made a pretty big splash in the rest of the world. Yesterday (Thursday, March 26), leaders of 30 European cities met in Paris to announce common commitments to clean-climate policy. They signed a declaration devoting their collective purchasing power (annually, around $10 billion, or €9.2 billion at today’s exchange rates) to buy eco-friendly products.
The head count of the top 10 cities contributing (London, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Bucharest, Vienna, Budapest, Milan, Brussels, and Stockholm) amounts to about 25 million people. This is equivalent to that of the top 10 cities in the US, including not only New York (which is smaller than London), Los Angeles, and Chicago, but all 7 others down to San Jose, California, which has about the same population as the 10th European city (Stockholm). And there are 20 more on Europe’s list. Imagine the media ignoring the contribution of the top 10 US cities….
Said the European mayors:
“[The] time has now come for European capitals and metropolises to pool our efforts to tackle climate change. This requires a closer dialogue between cities through a more regular exchange of expertise and good practices.”
Europe’s mayors are all implementing policies that favor procurement contracts from green and low-carbon industries. They also cite the leverage effect on the private sector, which very often aligns its own requirements with those of government. In principle, the logic is similar to that used in President Obama’s executive order last week mandating the federal government and its supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The international mayoral resolution comes just 8 months before Paris hosts the United Nations framework on climate change conference (COP21), which plans to adopt an international agreement on climate change response that is hoped to be binding and universal. This Paris accord would come after more than 20 years of only partly successful negotiations among the 190-some nations of the world, including the Kyoto treaty.
Coincidentally, the announcement follows by a week the news that Paris briefly attained the title of “most polluted city on the planet” because of an unusually dense smog cover that nearly obscured the Eiffel Tower.
For the worldwide Earth Hour tomorrow, France will extinguish the tower’s illumination for a few minutes, and other city lights for an hour. In a symbolic and now even more significant gesture, the City of Lights will be going dark.