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Day 6 of COP23: Non-state actors show commitment to climate

Day 6: Saturday, 11 November

Non-state actors—Just outside the perimeter of the COP—the zone under the jurisdiction of the United Nations—a tent called “America’s Pledge” brought together hundreds of COP23 participants determined to show that support for climate action in the United States was still strong at the national, state, and city levels. California Governor Jerry Brown said, “We’re doing real stuff in California. States have real power.” Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the tent was the first of its kind and was inspired by the fact that this was the first COP where the US did not have a pavilion. He said the non-state actors who committed to climate action accounted for half of the US economy and would represent the world’s third largest economy if it were a country of its own. The non-state actors are requesting that they be more fully integrated into the COP process and show that they are taking real climate action. Brown said the group was releasing a report on progress so far “so the world can hold us accountable if we are going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Demonstrators disrupted Brown’s speech, claiming that the governor was doing too little too slowly to eliminate fossil fuel automobiles and the production of fossil fuels. Referring to the demonstrators, Brown said, “This is very California.” He added that the eliminating 32 million vehicles overnight would lead to economic disaster. “We need to move from noise to real action. We need to move to decarbonization.”

Cities stepping up—Representatives of cities, settlements and urban organizations demonstrated their commitment to the Paris Agreement with the launch of new initiatives aimed at building better, more sustainable cities, including decarbonizing the construction sector. “There’s a movement afoot,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, at COP23 promoting Climate Mayors, a growing group of US mayors who have pledged to meet Paris Agreement targets, or in the case of Peduto—exceed them.

Peduto said Pittsburgh, which once was a major steel producer, was a city with a future, and was now working to promote new technologies, including electric cars. “The next time you call an Uber in Pittsburgh, it might be a self-driving car. He added that “time goes in one direction. If you are waiting for mills to reopen, you will be left in the past. I have one message: Join us.”

Elsewhere, UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos urged for better urbanization management at the launch event for the new global initiative Planners for Climate Action, which will brings together global, regional and national associations of urban planners to amplify their voice in building sustainable cities. We want to prevent urbanization from going too far down the wrong direction, he said.

Renewables in Kasese, Uganda—Kasese Mayor Godfrey Baluku Kime says his city is well on its way to meeting the goal of becoming 100 percent renewable by 2020. The city, which lies near snow capped mountains, relies heavily on kerosene to power households. It makes sense in Uganda, which he said receives 12 hours of sunshine a day, compared with Bonn, where he has yet to see the sun. So far, a programme has installed 17,000 solar panels, paid for by residents and the government. “It is important not too squeeze the resident,” he said, adding that the programme had generated income and had improved lives for people living in rural areas.

Halfway there—Whew! As Saturday comes to a close, we’re officially halfway through the COP. If we feel tired or stressed, at least there’s yoga in the India Pavilion.

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