Tue, Nov 23, 2010 - Page 7 News List

World mayors sign voluntary climate pact

AFP, MEXICO CITY

Mayors from around the world signed a voluntary pact on Sunday in Mexico City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a meeting meant as a precursor to UN-sponsored climate talks in Cancun opening next week.

The gathering in one of the world’s most polluted cities assembled thousands of local and regional leaders to discuss a wide range of economic and social issues, including climate change.

Participants from some 135 cities and urban areas signed the pact which states their intention to adopt a slate of measures to stem climate change.

Each city “will have to register its climate data [commitments as well as performance] in the city climate record” during the next eight months, said Gabriel Sanchez, president of Think Foundation, a Mexican non-profit.

The pact will be presented at UN talks in Cancun from Monday to Dec. 10. That’s when top climate scientists from around the world hope to break the deadlock on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and channeling aid to poor, vulnerable countries after the widely regarded failure of the last climate summit in Copenhagen.

Sunday’s signing came a day after the close of the third conference of the United Cities and Local Governments, attended by mayors, legislators and officials from more than 1,000 cities and towns in 114 countries.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said his counterparts should seize the opportunity ahead of Cancun to highlight their key roles in the fight to put the brakes on climate change.

Ebrard has brought the battle to his doorstep; he pledged last week that Mexico City, with its teeming population of more than 20 million, would reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 14 percent.

The mayors emphasized the vital role that cities, where more than half the world’s population now live, can play in the fight against climate change.

Urban areas consume up to 80 percent of global energy production and emit 60 percent of greenhouse gases, according to Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The pact sent a “clear signal” to countries that will sit at the negotiating table in Cancun that it is possible to reach agreement, Figueres said.

Meanwhile, a study released on Sunday found that fossil-fuel gases edged back less than hoped last year, as falls in advanced economies were largely outweighed by rises in China and India.

Annual global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of oil, gas and coal were 30.8 billion tonnes, a retreat of only 1.3 percent last year compared with 2008, a record year, they said in a letter to the journal Nature Geoscience.

The decrease was less than half what had been expected, because emerging giant economies were unaffected by the downturn that hit many large industrialized nations.

In addition, they burned more coal, while their economies struggled with a higher “carbon intensity,” a measure of fuel-efficiency.

Emissions of fossil-fuel gases last year fell by 11.8 percent in Japan, by 6.9 percent in the US, by 8.6 percent in the UK, by 7 percent in Germany and by 8.4 percent in Russia, the paper said.

In contrast, they rose by 8 percent in China.

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