Foreign Policy Blogs

C40 – The Finale

Yesterday morning, they had a press conference to wind the summit up. As I sat waiting for Ken Livingstone to start the proceedings, I thought about how long it had taken to get here. Finally, there’s enormous momentum from governments at all levels, as well as from industry and finance, and all working with the environmental community who’ve been calling for precisely this sort of action for years. I guess I feel proud to have been thinking and caring about this for pretty much my whole adult life. I’ve been frustrated, often, over the years, that more progress hasn’t been made, not only on climate change, but on renewable energy and conservation, and on providing intelligent, safe, sustainable approaches to economic development, on environmental protection and resource conservation. It is gratifying, though, to see the intensity and the focus now. Let’s hear from David Miller, the Mayor of Toronto, about the importance of the private sector in all this.

I’ve seen and talked to some far-seeing and remarkable folks this week, like Mayors Miller and Anderson, Kevin Hydes from the World Green Building Council, and others. I have to say that among a group of imposing figures, I’m really impressed by Ken Livingstone. His heart and his brain are clearly in this fight. He seems a warm, poised, really smart and well-spoken man, and he appears to have a fine, dry British sense of humor.

He’s also a straight shooter. The C40 will be bringing pressure to bear on the G-8 group in advance of their meetings next month. He cited one (unnamed) member of the G-8 as “in denial” on climate change. The presidential administration will change on January 20, 2009, and we will see action on climate change from the White House then. You can get very heavy odds in favor of that. In the meantime, jurisdictions like these major international cities, and other cities throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world; the states of California and New York, among others; regional groupings of states out West and in the Northeast; other countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, as well as the European Union and critical agencies within the U.N. are not waiting. In Congress, in spite of roadblocks being put up, momentum is also building. (Bill McKibben noted that, up until this year, Congress had produced “twenty years of inactivity‚ a remarkably successful bipartisan effort to accomplish nothing.”)

Here’s a release from the Greater London Authority summing up the summit. Let me let Ken Livingstone get the last word in here about the importance of the work of dealing with the climate change crisis. Good on “ya, Ken!



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change