CLIMATE CHANGE FEATURE: Arizona, Texas Mayors Step Up to Ease Global Warming

ABC News reports  a small but important step for political leaders fighting climate change: Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Phoenix Mayor  Greg Stanton mayors are stepping up as leaders supporting real efforts to minimize the devastating effects of climate change. It’s a healthy sign, given the political vacuum created in Arizona and Texas by conservative Republicans determined to pretend human-created global warming is some kind of myth. These three democrat leaders have proposed a resolution that recommends cities should use natural resources to protect water and air.

They’ll vote on the proposal  today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, encouraging partnerships with non-profit organizations that can help make positive differences in cities struggling with drought and pollution.

According to the article:

“[Governors and mayors] don’t have to acknowledge climate change to know that the facts are there. … We want to take the steps that would advance the things that we all believe in without getting into some ideological argument,” Leffingwell added.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told an audience of mayors on Sunday that they could turn the debate on climate change into a discussion about economics, public safety and health rather than strictly politics. Local action could also serve as an example to skeptical lawmakers at the state level, she argued.

“You have shown them what leadership on this issue can bring,” McCarthy said.

For coastal cities such as Galveston, Houston and New York City, as well as more arid regions of the country, such as Phoenix and Sacramento, California, there is no time for debate — climate change’s effects are real.

Galveston’s seawall didn’t stand up to Hurricane Ike in 2008, partly because of the sea level rise that allowed the storm’s surge to reach inner areas. Officials began to rethink protections, leading Galveston and nearby coastal communities to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy to restore oyster reefs and wetland habitats that could better help protect communities….

Heat and debilitating drought is worsening in some parts of Arizona and California. Sacramento is using trees for part of the solution, and the city has outlined a detailed “climate plan” for the coming decades.

Bill Finch, the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and co-chair of the conference’s climate task force, said some mayors in mid- and large-sized cities have had a climate plan for about seven years. Party politics are irrelevant, he said, pointing out that his co-chair on the committee is Carmel, Indiana, Republican James Brainard.

Carmel put roundabouts at 84 intersections. Studies have shown such traffic patterns can cut down on emissions. Now, Finch plans to implement a similar plan in his community.

“Mayors have to go to the grocery store and listen to families complain about kids with asthma … that their flooding is getting worse,” Finch said, pointing out that the steps in the resolution would also give cities more parks and green space.

“This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions,” Finch said.”

Background about US Conference of Mayors work on Climate Change:

“Mayors are on the front lines of impacting human behavior – from their work on recycling, to aids prevention, and prostate cancer, they are changing human behavior every day. This is one of many reasons why 1,060 mayors continue to join The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, vowing to reduce carbon emissions in their cities below 1990 levels, in line with the Kyoto Protocol. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was the founder of this movement.

Under the leadership of The Conference, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program was conceived, making it possible for the first time in U.S. history, for cities, counties and states to receive grants specifically to fund energy-efficiency projects. This program was a top priority of the Mayors’ 10-Point Plan and the Mayors’ MainStreet Recovery Program. The Obama Administration earlier this year, acted to distribute $2.8 billion for EECBG, included in the Recovery Package (ARRA), which will benefit hundreds of U.S. cities.”

 

 

 

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