Published Wednesday, August 2, 2006, by the Washington Post
22 Cities Join Clinton Anti-Warming Effort
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Twenty-two of the world's largest cities announced yesterday that
they will work together to limit their contributions to global
warming in an effort led by former president Bill Clinton.
The Clinton Climate Initiative -- which will create an international
consortium to bargain for cheaper energy-efficient products and
share ideas on cutting greenhouse gas pollution -- includes Chicago,
Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York as well as Cairo, Delhi,
London and Mexico City. While the group is not setting specific
targets for reducing emissions, Clinton said he is confident the
effort will both cut pollution and create jobs in the cities that
contribute most to higher temperatures.
"It no longer makes sense for us to debate whether or not the Earth
is warming at an alarming rate, and it doesn't make sense for us to
sit back and wait for others to act," Clinton said, speaking at a
Los Angeles news conference with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and
London and San Francisco city leaders. "The fate of the planet that
our children and grandchildren will inherit is in our hands, and it
is our responsibility to do something about this crisis."
The endeavor comes on the heels of Monday's announcement by
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) that he will work with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to trade carbon dioxide emissions
and share clean-energy technology.
It is unclear how much Clinton's initiative can achieve in the
absence of broader mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. The 40
cities he is targeting account for 15 to 20 percent of the world's
emissions, according to Clinton aide Ira Magaziner. City officials
can cut their governments' energy use and govern local building
codes and land use, but they do not regulate the automobiles or
power plants that account for much of a city's carbon dioxide
Climate experts said the effort could help but by itself it will not
achieve the major reductions needed to curb global warming. Drew
Shindell, an atmospheric physicist at NASA's Goddard Institute for
Space Studies, said emissions must be cut in half by mid-century to
keep Earth's temperature from reaching dangerous levels. "They can
make progress, but it will be quite limited, I would think,"
But London Mayor Ken Livingstone -- who spoke at the news conference
and whose city charges a daily fee to drive cars downtown during
peak traffic times -- said cities are already "at the center of
developing the technologies and innovative new practices that
provide hope that we can radically reduce carbon emissions."
The Clinton Foundation will focus on providing technical assistance
and bargaining power to the participating cities, all with area
populations of 3 million or more, employing the same model it has
used to lower the price of AIDS medicine for poorer countries.
In a telephone interview Monday, Clinton -- who was criticized by
some environmentalists for not moving aggressively enough as
president to curb greenhouse gases -- said he cared about climate
change before but feels "a greater sense of urgency" about the
problem now in light of the mounting scientific evidence.
"The thing that's different is the combination of a new sense of
urgency about the problem and a sense of optimism that dealing with
the problem can produce economic prosperity," he said.
President Bush has promoted voluntary measures to curb greenhouse
gases, such as promoting cleaner technologies, but has consistently
opposed mandatory targets.
"The administration welcomes and encourages all levels of government
to find ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions," Kristen Hellmer of
the White House Council on Environmental Quality said of Clinton's
The Clinton Foundation plans to help major cities measure their
emissions and track their reductions, as well as share information
about energy-efficient building design and street lighting. Smaller
cities such as Baltimore and the District cannot formally join the
initiative, but they will be able to buy energy-efficient products
at the same low negotiated prices as larger cities, which D.C. Mayor
Anthony A. Williams (D) said he would welcome.