WASHINGTON – International leaders and local officials on Thursday pledged to work hard to stem the rise of global temperatures by investing in public transportation and electric cars, planting trees and switching to solar energy.
At a climate action summit, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged governments, businesses and civil society to make good on the landmark climate agreement concluded late last year in Paris by more than 170 countries. The deal aims to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial times.
Ban called on cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and on companies to invest in green technologies with the goal or cooling the planet and ensuring cleaner air and better health.
“We need action now,” Ban said. “Temperatures continue to rise. Arctic sea ice is melting fast. Droughts, storms and floods are costing lives and productivity.”
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said governments and corporations should invest in lower-carbon transport systems and switch over from road to rail and water transport.
“Inaction means we will not meet our targets set in Paris, and the global temperature will soar above 2 degrees Celsius,” Kim said. “That would spell disaster for us, for our children, and for the planet.”
Earlier, the mayors of major cities around the world announced a program to share their knowledge and know-how to fight hotter temperatures, air pollution and other effects of climate change.
“It’s about leadership, energy and passion that will help cool the planet,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told the conference.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in an Associated Press interview that it was important for cities, the population centres, to counter global warming at the local level.
Hidalgo has pledged to phase out diesel-powered automobiles in the French capital in favour of electric cars and has installed electric charging stations for that purpose. She also is closing the famous Champs Elysees boulevard to traffic once a month, planting 20,000 trees around the city as well as vegetation on the walls and roofs of buildings and aiming to use renewable energy in development projects.
“It’s at the level of cities that most of the action must be taken to implement the Paris agreement and to achieve results,” Hidalgo said.