European Cities Pledge to Slash Greenhouse Gas Emissions

VIENNA, Austria, May 9, 2006 (ENS) - An association of European cities linked in partnership with indigenous rainforest peoples has resolved to reduce their emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 10 percent every five years as a long term strategy. By this means, they intend to cut 1990 levels of per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2030.

The Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest Peoples is Europe's largest city network dedicated to climate protection, with more than 1,300 member municipalities located in 17 European countries.

Close to 50 million European citizens live in member cities, which include Barcelona, Berlin, Luxembourg, Munich, The Hague, Venice, Vienna and Zurich.

City Hall

The 14th International Climate Alliance Annual Conference was held at Vienna City Hall. (Photo courtesy City of Vienna)
The pledge to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is the key outcome of the 14th International Climate Alliance Annual Conference, held May 4 through 6 in Vienna's City Hall at the invitation of the city. More than 300 delegates participated in the conference which aimed to find local solutions to the problems of global warming.

To attain the long term climate stabilization goal agreed by the cities individuals would have to cut their emissions to the level of 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per person per year.

While the cities declared this level to be "sustainable and equitable worldwide," achieving it would mean big reductions in the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which are the sources of CO2 emissions.

In 1992, for instance, each person in France was responsible for the emission of a little more than six metric tons of CO2 equivalent, in the United Kingdom the level was 9.8 metric tons per capita, and in Belgium, the level was even higher at 10.1 metric tons per capita.

"The new target adopted here extends far beyond the year 2010, but also permits short-term monitoring of performance," said Joachim Lorenz, environment and health councillor of the city of Munich and member of the Climate Alliance Executive Board.

"It allows local authorities who are only just starting their climate protection activities to pursue concrete quantitative goals," Lorenz said.

Over the long term, Climate Alliance cities and municipalities aim to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by means of energy conservation, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, particularly in the fields of energy and transportation.

They also abstain from procuring tropical timber derived from destructive logging, and help indigenous partners to conserve the rainforests.

Lorenz stresses that the 2.5 metric ton per capita target, while ambitious, is achievable if all international, national and local decisionmakers work together.

Christ

Dr. Renate Christ, secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was a featured speaker at the Climate Alliance conference. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
At the conference local authority representatives from all over Europe exchanged experiences and debated strategies, measures and barriers affecting climate protection at the local level.

Prominent climate experts from the realms of science and politics participated in the Climate Alliance conference, including the U.S. futures researcher Professor Dennis Meadows, the Secretary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr. Renate Christ, and the head of the Climate Protection, Environment and Energy Department of the German Federal Environmental Agency, Dr. Klaus Mueschen.

Conference delegates concluded that attainment of the new greenhouse gas reduction goal will require the cooperation of all decision-making levels - European Union, national, regional, and local authorities. It cannot be done by measures undertaken within the sphere of competence of local authorities alone.

The 15th International Conference of the Climate Alliance will convene in May 2007 at the invitation of member city Zurich, Switzerland.