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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Pollution

04 Jul 13 16:39

In my last blog (, I explain why Swiss Re is supporting US city mayors in their drive to strengthen urban resilience and why cities have a pivotal role to play in combating the impact of climate change. What I find so encouraging is that boosting urban resilience has also become a worldwide undertaking. Take a look at the work of the C40 CITIES Climate Leadership Group to see what I mean.

In a concerted, collaborative effort, the C40 cities have signed up to reduce greenhouse gases and so combat the effects of climate change. Founded in 2005, C40 has since joined forces with the Clinton Climate Initiative and its membership has grown to 58 cities across all continents.

Although each city is faced with contrasting challenges, they are all convinced that by sharing best practice, they can increase their resilience to climate change.

So very often, international groupings like these fail to achieve anything much beyond issuing rather empty statements of intent.

Not so with C40.

Let me give you a snapshot of the concrete actions some of these cities have already taken:

Johannesburg is installing solar water heaters and insulated ceilings in 700 homes in one of the city's under-privileged neighborhoods.

Seoul's weekly No Driving Day programme has improved air quality, reduced congestion, saved energy and cut CO2 emissions by 10% per year.

Using a biological composting process, a public/private partnership in Sydney is turning methane to energy without incineration, and creating 30,000 tons of certified organic fertilizer for farmlands across the State.

New York's Greener, Greater Buildings Plan comprises a set of energy efficiency laws aimed at the city's largest buildings which constitute half its built square footage and 45% of citywide carbon emissions.

The list goes on. In fact according to the C40 website, up to now there have been over 4,700 actions taken by cities to mitigate climate change.

We back C40 because we wholeheartedly support cities' efforts to make the kind of smart investments necessary to ensure a sustainable future for their inhabitants.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Pollution, Resilience, Sustainable energy: Solar


Alicia Montoya - 7 Jul 2013, 9:05 p.m.

Fantastic! And there are so many more initiatives that aren't listed there. It's so refreshing to read about concrete actions that are making a difference, today. No big speeches on doomsday scenarios or eternal discussions on big sweeping reforms and international agreements. Just one-step-at-a-time climate resilience initiatives at a local level. And yes, together we make all the difference. Hooray to the cities, groups and individuals already acting rather than waiting for an international agreement on all things climate that, having attended COP17, like Godot, I fear will never come.

I was lucky to work on a project sponsored by the Alstom Foundation that brought renewable energy to low-income households. Alstom teamed up with PlaNet Finance and NGO Sustainable Energy Africa to create the Micro Energy Alliance (MEA), a micro-franchise retail distribution channel offering Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy (EE&RE) solutions- such as insulation systems, LED solar lamps, solar water heaters, and efficient stoves- to low-income households in South Africa. It also provides micro-finance options for micro-franchises and households, boosting the local economy. So if the poor township of Khayelitsha can do it, why not the rest of us?

On a sourer note, Kansas seems to be going the other way. Keep checking the calendar to see if it's April Fool's but alas, this looks like they're serious?

Bernd Wilke - 2 Sep 2013, 12:16 p.m.

On the notes above, there is a fantastic webpage of the BBC on "Cities of the future". Some of it a really really visionary (up to science fiction :-) but other ideas are very serious food for thought. And its not only about being safe and resilient. It is also about on how we will meet, work interact and live in 2050 - which in turn will have an influence on how resilient we will be. After all fulfilled individuals are the basis of stable and resilient societies.

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