LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti said he hopes the presence of mayors and other local leaders at last week’s COP21, the United Nation’s climate change conference in Paris, will help push world leaders to reach an agreement effective enough to halt and reverse climate change.
Garcetti, who attended the conference, told City News Service he hopes the large gathering of mayors and other local official “finally builds the pressure for the world’s leaders to come to an agreement.”
“This is so different from Copenhagen,” with “local leaders driving the agenda and not vice versa,” he said.
Garcetti said he believes the Paris conference might be hosting “the biggest grouping of global mayors” who are tackling climate change.
“There is a real sense of urgency that cities are where the rubber hits the road,” he said. “We’re going to be responsible for the majority of actions to reverse climate change.”
The 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen was widely viewed as a failure by world leaders to agree on goals aimed at preventing temperatures from rising by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, up to a level that would make climate change effects especially dangerous.
Environmentalists and others were looking to the Paris conference as a second chance at reaching an agreement.
Garceti said in order to reach citywide emission reduction goals, and contribute to global efforts to stop climate change, Los Angeles will need to wean itself “completely off of coal” and switch to renewable energy, change how people travel and fuel transportation, and make buildings more energy efficient.
He added that more ships and other equipment at the Port of Los Angeles will need to be run on electricity. Cutting the amount of water imported to Los Angeles will also help reduce the energy use, he said.
COP21, also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, continues until Dec. 11. Garcetti arrived in Paris Dec. 3 and left Dec. 5.
Garcetti spoke Dec. 4 during the “Cities of the Future: Innovation and Sustainable Urbanization in China” portion of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders. The event is hosted by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Bloomberg is the United Nations Secretary-General’s special envoy for cities and climate change.
On Dec. 3, Garcetti met with other city leaders at Paris’s City Hall during a meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as a member of its 13-person steering committee.
Garcetti also spoke Dec. 5 at the Cities & Regions Pavilion at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, as a representative for mayors from the United States.
Garcetti and five members of his office attended COP21, with most of the costs covered by Bloomberg Philanthropies and C40, according to mayoral spokeswoman Vicki Curry.
Garcetti released a report Dec. 2 touting the progress made in Los Angeles around issues of climate change, pointing to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are now 20 percent below 1990 levels. The city’s goal is to bring emissions down to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2025.
With cities creating 70 percent of greenhouse gases, “mayors must lead the way on climate action,” Garcetti said.