Throughout his three terms as Mayor of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has kept policies designed to fight climate change at the forefront of his agenda. Most recently, nearly one year following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in New York City and the Mid-Atlantic coast, Bloomberg renewed his calls for mayors of the world’s largest cities to join him in combating climate change.
According to Bloomberg, nearly half of the world’s population resides in large cities, which combined generate approximately 70% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, influenced by this statistic, Bloomberg recently stressed that cities should not rely upon state and federal legislation to combat climate change. Instead, he maintains that the leaders of these cities can and should take their own action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world.
On the global stage, Bloomberg serves as chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a collaboration of cities and research institutions from around the world. According to Bloomberg, this group, has “taken more than 4,700 actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the possible effects of climate change,” and “has the potential to reduce emissions by more than one billion tons a year by 2030 — which is equivalent to making both Canada and Mexico entirely carbon-neutral.”
Specific to New York City, Bloomberg has overseen the planting of over 500,000 new trees and spearheaded a major bike sharing initiative. He also implemented a ban on the most-polluting form of heating oil, which according to Bloomberg, has “the potential to reduce [New York City’s] greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent and save New Yorkers more than $750 million per year in energy costs.”
Although Bloomberg will be exiting the political stage in January 2014 when he completes his final term as Mayor of New York City, we can be sure that his framework for addressing climate change at the city level—rather than at the state and federal levels—will continue to shape the national and international climate change debate for years to come.