Global Climate Action Summit: 'Coal out, bicycle in'

Global Climate Action Summit: 'Coal out, bicycle in'

The International “Global Climate Action Summit” was organized on Sept. 12-15 in San Francisco. Public administrations, businesspeople and non-governmental organization representatives who are signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement came together. 

Although I was invited, I was not able to attend the event, so I watched the whole summit on TV. 

Just like any other climate summit, this was also highly entertaining. 

Those who came from the Polynesia Islands, which are under threat of submersion, those who dressed up as trees, mayors against the climate policies of U.S. President Donald Trump and many interesting NGOs… 

They were all out on the streets of San Francisco. 

Of course, it is not coincidental that the Global Climate Action Summit was organized in this U.S. city. 

San Francisco is one of the leading cities struggling against climate change

It recycles almost 80 percent of its waste. 

Even the organic waste of the city is collected by the municipality for fertilizing purposes. 

Heads of states did not attend the summit, but the mayors of Paris and New York, cities which are fighting against climate change, appeared at all stages of the event. So, what were the results of this summit? 

Let me list some: 

- The Powering Post-Coal Alliance gained 10 new members. The alliance, which reached 74 members, aims a complete global energy change. The members of the alliance include countries like Canada, England, Belgium, France, Mexico and states like California and New York.

- A report showing that the global greenhouse gas emissions might be decreased down to 50 percent by 2030 has been published. According to the report, which focuses on 33 sectors, we already have the technology which can decrease the emission by 52 percent in agriculture, 52 percent in buildings and 50 percent in power generation. 

- The inevitable rise of bicycle use as a transportation vehicle has begun. San Francisco locals and the summit’s participants rode free bicycles provided by Ford for three days. 

- During the summit, France announced its “Bicycle Plan.” Accordingly, the working class will be encouraged to commute by bicycles. France plans to triple the number of cyclists in the next six years. 

[HH] Which cities are carbon-neutral? 

More than 70 cities where 425 million people live, including significant hubs such as Los Angeles, Milano, New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, and Toronto, are announced to be transformed into carbon-neutral cities by 2050. 

- Twenty-six cities with a total population of 140 million are announced to buy zero-emission buses starting from the beginning of 2025.

- Various cities announced that they will decrease food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

-Low carbon economy is calculated to bring $26 trillion in financial gain by 2030. Consequently, the low carbon economy will quickly gain importance.

- Some 488 companies from 33 counties announced their goals to decrease their emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. 

Municipalities lead the way

The results of the summit do not end here. 

This evaluation is important: 

For climate change policies, the leaderships of the municipalities are as important as the companies.

“In this period when the U.S. refuses even to speak about climate change, we will lead as the municipalities,” said London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco.

The summit already became a platform for U.S mayors who came together against Trump, who reiterates that he doesn’t believe that climate change is real. 

The alliance against Trump’s climate policies under the slogan “We are Still Here,” is composed of cities and states and more than 500 members. 

Finally, I should ask the crucial question: “Is there a representative from Turkey or Istanbul?” 

I hope I am wrong, but as far as I know, there was nobody except WWF Turkey’s general director Aslı Pasinler.

Gila Benmayor, climate change, wwf