UN-HABITAT's Executive Director and former US President Bill Clinton on Tuesday joined delegates from cities around the world to press home the message that action on climate change has to be implemented in cities.
The third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit drew together mayors and executives from 40 cities and 17 affiliate municipalities across the globe.
In his keynote addres, the former US leader, whose Clinton Climate Initiative develops programmes to help cities cut the emissions blamed for global warming, warned of dire consequences if cities did not enact policies to mitigate the problem.
Mr. Clinton said the good practices shared among the C40 members would advance the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions adding that in the current economic crisis, it was crucial to invest wisely.
According to Mr. Clinton, in the United States, for every USD 1 billion invested in building and construction, 870 jobs were created. It was possible today for economies to grow without emitting greenhouse gases, and the world must act now to cut emissions before it is too late, he said.
"We know that if we don't reduce greenhouse gases by somewhere in the range of 80 percent by 2050, bad things are going to happen," Clinton said in a keynote speech at the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, held this year in Seoul.
Global warming could lead to a drop in food production and access to water, creating new dangers to public health, Mr. Clinton warned.
“It is absolutely certain if we let the worst happen, then the consequences will be so severe that we won't be able to save the planet for our grandchildren," Clinton said.
The former president, who now runs the Clinton Climate Initiative, joined mayors and leaders from some 70 cities around the world for the three-day conference to trade advice and share experiences on ways they have gone green.
In her speech Mrs. Tibaijuka said it was no coincidence that global climate change had become a leading international development issue at the same time as the world has become urbanized.
“The way we plan, manage, operate and consume energy in our cities is the key driver behind the phenomenon of global warming. Seventy-five percent of global energy consumption occurs in cities. Roughly half of this comes from burning fossil fuels for urban transport,” she said.
“In fact, urban transportation is the planet’s fastest growing source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. As most cities manage urban transport, this is the single most important area where wisely invested city budgets can make the biggest contribution in continued climate change mitigation,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
She said that under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, many UN agencies had worked hard to reduce impacts of the climate change and raise the public awareness. “I appreciate the participating mayors’ commitment and kindly ask for their further cooperation to join our activities,” she added.