On the Outside Looking In (by Adam)

Due to capacity constraints, only part of our group was able to gain entry to the COP15 conference today.  Unfortunately, I will have to wait until Wednesday but all was not lost. I did a quick search of side events occurring in Copenhagen today and found one that sparked my interest – The Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors taking place at Copenhagen City Hall.

I was able to make it through security to the registration desk, but it turns out that attendance at the event is by invitation only. I decided to head back to the Bella Center to try to get into COP15 for the 3rd time in two days and hopped on the bus.  A few stops later, the bus was filled with COP15 participants. A fellow Midwesterner, Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, plopped down next to me.

The mayor spent the next 10 minutes speaking candidly about the conference and Des Moines’ environmental initiatives.  He expressed some frustration with the lack of power that local municipalities have in this country-level bureaucratic process.  With nearly 80% of the CO2 emissions coming from cities, he has an excellent point.  It made me wonder what would be the result of the climate negotiations if they occurred at a different level.  What would the outcome be if instead of delegates from 170+ countries, leaders from the largest 200 cities in the world took collective action to address climate change?

From an American point of view, urban politics are dominated by the Democratic Party.  If cities are the main culprit for emissions and they are Democratic strongholds, could they circumvent Congress and take quicker action to address climate change? I’m sure there a several reasons that put a damper on this idea, but I’ll leave the counterargument to the “non-jet-lagged”.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Karen said,

    Very interesting idea, Adam. Flexibility, ‘medium’-scale, ease of communication and organizing, community-based – all increase successful outcomes when people are trying innovative solutions.


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