Foreign Policy Blogs

More Climate Summit

On Wednesday, L.A.’s mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, announced his city’s Green LA plan, which incorporates a commitment to 35% use of renewables by 2020.  The Green LA plan is not unlike “PLANYC” in emphasizing energy efficiency, renewables, mass transit and alternative fuels for surface transport, etc.

The afternoon session, “Cities Can Thrive in a Low-Carbon Economy,” was led by Steve Howard from The Climate Group.  They launched a new publication, Public Private Partnership: Local Initiatives 2007, that day and it was highlighted in the session.  Two panelists, the mayors from Berlin and Mexico City, both had initiatives in the publication:  Berlin’s partnership with Johnson Controls on energy efficiency in buildings, and Mexico City’s partnership with the World Resources Institute on transportation.  (For other case studies, see Climate Group’s publication above and the website of the Summit.  Some really, really innovative projects.)

The big news of the day, of course, was the announcement of the Clinton Climate Initiative putting together a group of banks and industrial corporations to underwrite and perform a $5 billion program of retrofitting buildings to maximize energy efficiency.  Here’s a clip of Bill Clinton talking about the program.  Ken Livingstone said later, that when this is further funded and all up and running, the energy efficiency program could reduce carbon emissions by 10% globally.   Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the heads of thirteen national Academies of Science, issued a statement, in advance particularly of the forthcoming G-8 Summit (see my post on “Meetings“), calling for an intensified focus on energy efficiency.  Beyond that, the 13 national leaders of their academies of science called for further efforts on reducing deforestation and also increasing technology transfer to the developing world, particularly of “leapfrog” technologies. You heard this expression often at the conference, from Ken Livingstone and others.

In a similar vein, IBM last week announced their $1 billion plan to upgrade their data centers and radically reduce energy use.  “Project Big Green” will address IBM’s needs at more than eight million square feet of data centers in six continents.  See this video for more.


On another note, I had the pleasure of talking with Mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City about his city’s approach to solid waste management.  Here’s their webpage on “Salt Lake City Green.”   I got a moment to discuss with him my thoughts about solid waste management and how productive a holistic approach can be.  I articulated my ideas, gleaned from the best concepts and practices in urban sustainable development, in a comprehensive proposal for New York City’s modest 25,000 tons a day of municipal solid waste a few years ago and called the plan, Urban Gold.  The heart of the strategy is to co-locate a materials recovery facility (MRF) and other waste disposal facilities, such as pyrolysis or gasification plants (mentioned by London Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron at several points this week, I might add), with industries that would use the recycled materials as feedstock for their manufacturing.  Mayor Anderson was good enough to say that he’d look at the strategy.



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