Big Story 10

Mayors will lead on climate change for political gain, says ex-NYC mayor

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mayors globally are increasingly adopting measures to slash greenhouse gas emissions because it makes them popular with voters, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.

Former New York Mayor and U.N. Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg speaks during the C40 Cities Women4Climate event in New York City, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Days after U.S. President Donald Trump dismantled countrywide climate-change policies, Bloomberg said mayors are going beyond national government regulations to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming for political gain.

“This is not ethics, this is politics. That’s the real world,” he told the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York.

“Elected officials want publicity so they can be re-elected and keep their jobs,” he said at the three-day event. “It’s become fashionable.”

Bloomberg, who was New York City mayor from 2002 to 2013, co-chairs the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, a group of more than 7,400 cities in 119 countries formed to swap information on such goals as developing clean energy.

Cities are responsible for an estimated 75 percent of carbon emissions contributing to climate change and consume 70 percent of global energy, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

National authorities, in comparison, had historically played a “relatively unimportant” role in coming up with measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the United States, Bloomberg said.

Nearly 200 nations reached a global climate pact in 2015 at a diplomatic conference held in Paris, with about three quarters signatories having ratified the pact.

But Trump’s promise during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement has recently forced U.N. officials to defend its momentum.

The Trump administration also signed an order last week to undo climate change regulations put in place by the previous administration in a move to support the coal industry. Trump has dismissed man-made climate change as a hoax during his campaign.

But Bloomberg said the leadership of the United States in fighting climate change remained robust as cities were stepping in to slow global warming amid political gridlock at the federal government level.

“For the foreseeable future our federal government is basically polarized and immobilized and they’re not going to do anything, that’s the bad news,” he said.

“The good news is that it probably means they’ll stay out of the way.”