Addressing Climate Change at Local Level…


By URBACT, on December 5th, 2011

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With the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban this last week, it has got me wondering how we can seek to address its issues at a local level. After all, if all politics is local, with the challenge of climate change and global warming that is facing us all, isn’t this the ultimate local question?

In Durban, and at the preceding conferences in Cancun and Copenhagen, the focus has been on extending the Kyoto protocol; addressing global warming by stabilising and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first glance it appears there is little we can do about these truly global problems, but is that the case?

In the URBACT funded EVUE project, cities are discussing how they can best aid the transition to electro mobility to address the challenges posed by the internal combustion engine – not least the emissions of greenhouse gases. With the growing urbanisation of people across the world, and more people in cities than rural areas for the first time in history, this is a clear example of how cities are required to take a lead and the global has become local.10% of the global population live in only 100 cities , if each of those cities adopted e-mobility as the plan for the future, the reduction on global emissions could be significant.

But how are cities supposed to do this? Especially given the financial challenges affecting us all? Isn’t this a luxury we cannot afford at this time?
The Mayor of Lisbon Antonio Costa was recently asked what his motivation was for investing in electric mobility and was it a vote winner? His response “”I don’t think so,” the mayor replied. “Right now the number of users of electric cars is small. For a long time we will have more parking spaces for electric cars than people using them. But it’s a duty of politicians to anticipate the needs of the future.”  (author’s emphasis)

While Mayor Costa may be seen as particularly visionary, it is a clear illustration of the global being local. So what can the individual do?
One model that URBACT suggests is the formation of Local Support Groups which bring together diverse stakeholders to address these common challenges. Too often, local discussions are framed by ‘us’ and ‘them’ positions. A Local Support Group works by bringing all stakeholders in and its by working together we can achieve the benefits for all. But it needs all stakeholders – not just the usual suspects of industry and policy makers, but the citizens, academics, young, old and business people.

Through working together and developing a new way of responding to the challenges, we can overcome the barriers and find the opportunities that will address the issues we are facing. Where the global has become local, the local can now be global.

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Matthew Noon
EVUE Lead Partner

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