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Mayors Convene for Landmark Climate Summit for Local Leaders

On 4 December 2015, hundreds of mayors convened at Paris City Hall for the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, as part of the largest global convening of mayors, governors and local leaders focused on climate change.

The afternoon general session began with opening remarks from cohosts Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, who emphasized the strong base of knowledge that exists among cities across the world. Mayor Hidalgo noted that cities represent fifty percent of the solution for climate change and must share ideas and practices to ensure that cities create better environments for their citizens.

Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC followed these remarks by emphasizing the need to focus on climate change solutions rather than problems. The science clearly shows that we face dire consequences without action, which means the world must now use innovative and disruptive technologies that give way to a new economy and job creation.

Leonardo DiCaprio echoed Hidalgo in emphasizing the role of knowledge and exchange and collaboration, stating that “one thing is fundamentally clear: we need to find the will to work together,” noting the importance of strong networks like the Compact of Mayors, which recently reached 400 committed cities across the world. DiCaprio also called for greater ambitious and quick action by local and regional leaders, toward goals such as 100 percent renewable energy, which are possible even if they appear out of reach.

Following remarks by a number of officials, a panel consisting of the Mayors of New Orleans (US), Barcelona (Spain) and Amman (Jordan) joined a first nations representative in discussing how to deal with climate change risks, agreeing that cities and people must adapt and respond to signals coming from the natural environment. New Orleans, a city surrounded by water, has decided to work with its water resources, rather than against them, while the May or Barcelona, Ada Colau, recognizes that “if we do not want climate change, then we have to change ourselves.”

Park Wonsoon, Mayor of Seoul, South Korea and President of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability spoke to the role of local and regional government networks in advancing sustainability goals, explaining that the more than 1,000 ICLEI members agreed to implement the Seoul Action Plan, which includes specific measures for sustainable growth. He called for participants to “bear in mind the saying, ‘think globally, act locally,” a theme that resonates powerfully at an event that highlighted the power and potential of local climate ambitions amidst the ongoing international negotiations in Paris.

For more information on the agenda and speakers, visit http://climatesummitlocalleaders.paris/.