Copenhagen Climate Conference

With the focus here at the Bella Centre on the high-level negotiations between government blocks and political interests, today’s side event held by the CoR was a breath of fresh air.

It seems as though every interviewer and interviewee wants to discuss China, America, financing or Obama, but the reality that slowing the impacts of climate change require action from us all seems to be overlooked. In a small way, the CoR meeting addressed some of that.

Committee of the Regions President, Luc Van den Brande, explained that the Spanish Presidency to the EU had requested a review by CoR on the role of cities and regions. This is an opportunity they do not plan to let pass.

The meeting looked at the much more ground-level work of local government. While it may be obvious to some, or less obvious to others, local government has influence or control over enormous quantities of infrastructure. Think about the energy requirements and CO2 emissions of schools, hospitals, public transport, council buildings, council housing and much more, and it soon becomes clear that agreements and action at this level can lead to real results.

It was therefore with great pride that the participants discussed the Covenant of Mayors. This is a commitment by over 1,000 Mayors across Europe to cut the emissions of their infrastructure by more than 20%. Mayor Elisabeth Kautz was representing more than 19,000 Mayors across the United States that have made similar pledges. With such progress already underway, they have reason to be proud.

The panelists all agreed that the move to a “green lifestyle” will be challenging but will require action from everyone. This means that national and local leaders have an important role to communicate that we all need to think about our actions and lifestyle and take actions that reduce our carbon footprints. It is this ability to break the problems down to the level of you and I that has so far been lacking in Copenhagen.

Luckily, we have thousands of local government officials committing to take actions that our national leaders cannot.

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