Harvard on cities, climate and the C40

The Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin recently examined the importance of cities to climate change. Cities, the article says, are uniquely positioned to lead on climate change mitigation efforts. The piece notes that while historically cities are contributors to environmental issues: “it can also be said that, going forward, environmental remediation is not possible without them.”

The piece also highlights the work of New York City Mayor and C40 Chair Michael R. Bloomberg. Through PlaNYC and the C40, Mayor Bloomberg is helping New York and cities around the world take action locally that can have an impact globally.

From the article:

For not only is he the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg (MBA ’66) is also the chairman of theC40, a group of fellow mayors from the world’s 40 largest cities who have banded together to fight climate change. Bloomberg has recently returned from a C40 meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, only to hear the International Energy Agency’s chief economist announce that 2010 saw the largest annual rise in carbon emissions in history. So just how hot is it? Climate change, Bloomberg says, is “the greatest challenge that humanity has ever created for itself.”

Named chairman last year of the C40 (founded in 2005 as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group), Bloomberg sees cities as focal points in the struggle against global warming and climate change. Urban areas are now home to half the world’s population, consume half the world’s energy, and, according to some measures, account for as much as 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. They also remain the hubs and engines for the world’s economic, political, cultural, and social development. Fortunately, because of their legislative power to regulate buildings, density, energy use, and transportation, cities and their mayors can be pacesetters in climate change mitigation. And because cities are discovering that the greener they are, the better their quality of life and the greater their competitive advantage, they have by necessity become innovative, reality-based drivers of environmental policy and action. Cities are where humanity presses up against the future, but with needs that clamor for solutions right now. The leaders of cities feel the heat, literally and figuratively: “Mayors can’t just talk about goals for the year 2050,” Bloomberg says, citing a date often used for environmental targets and projections. “Cities are where you deliver services.”?