By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO of The New York Times
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The World Bank signed an agreement on Wednesday with mayors from 40 of the world’s biggest cities to work on technical and financial assistance for projects to minimize the effects of climate change.
The deal, announced at the C40 large cities climate meeting here, will ease access to financing for climate-change-reduction projects. It was hailed by many of the mayors, including Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, and by former President Bill Clinton, who attended the event as part of a new partnership with Mr. Bloomberg.
“The World Bank announcement is terrifically important,” Mr. Clinton said. “It will give credibility to these projects to get private capital.”
The agreement will make it easier for investors who have been hesitant to finance projects to assess city action plans by providing a standard approach, said Robert B. Zoellick, the World Bank’s president.
It will also provide a common way to measure and report on the greenhouse gas emissions of cities, easing access to carbon financing, he said. No single standard exists for reporting citywide carbon emissions.
Mayors said they were eager to gain access to the World Bank’s climate investment funds, which totaled $6.4 billion last year. Mr. Zoellick said the bank hoped to use that money to attract as much as $50 billion in private capital.
“What is holding back the sustainable clean technology revolution for a lot of mayors and businesses and households in a lot of countries is the lack of green financing,” said Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland, Ore. “The partnership with the World Bank begins to address that.”
The meeting has provided a chance for mayors to exchange information on practical solutions they have worked on to reduce pollution, improve transportation and increase energy efficiency.
“The great focus of discussions today in whatever city, state or country, involve environmental questions,” said Gilberto Kassab, São Paulo’s mayor.
The C40 commissioned a pair of studies that provide, for the first time, a statistical baseline of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the 58 cities that are members of the organization, as well as a catalog of actions they are taking to reduce them.
As Mr. Bloomberg, the chairman of C40, said, repeating a mantra from his business career, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
The C40 member cities have a total population of more than 300 million and produce 12 percent of global greenhouse gases and 21 percent of global economic activity. Of the 42 cities that participated in the research, more than half have adopted emissions-reduction targets, and nearly two-thirds have taken steps to address climate change.
Nearly half reported that they were already dealing with the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and higher average temperatures.
The cities reported more than 4,700 specific actions they have taken in the last five years to reduce emissions or adapt to climate change. Among those are converting buses to running on natural gas or hybrid-electric systems, recovering organic waste from landfills, retrofitting public buildings to make them more energy efficient and switching to less energy-intensive street and traffic lights.
“Some actions are quite comprehensive,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Many others are seemingly more modest, although as mayors we all recognize that large victories almost always result from many small steps.”
Still, he added, “there’s a great deal more that we can do.”
Mr. Clinton, in discussing ways to reduce climate-altering gases, highlighted the need to curb landfill and animal waste emissions to control methane gas.
“The world could push back for 20 years the most destructive consequences of climate change and give us 20 more years to figure out what to do with carbon if we could make a dramatic reduction in methane and black carbon, which is largely caused by the burning of charcoal and wood for food and the flaring of natural gas,” he said.
Mr. Clinton suggested that closing landfills and capturing methane as a power source “would solve a public health problem, give massive amounts of land back to cities, you would put huge numbers of people back to work. The financing has not been available for these things because they are looked at as eyesores, not gold mines.”
Mr. Bloomberg took a swipe at federal lawmakers for dragging their feet on addressing climate change.
“Mayors can’t just talk about goals for the year 2050, which some congressmen in the United States want to set as a goal,” he said. “Cities are where you deliver services. Federal governments and state governments sit around talking and passing laws or recommendations that don’t have any teeth.”
John M. Broder contributed reporting from Washington.
Article originated at The New York Times