This is the Liveblog for today's activities around the country and the world. This is the place to report your Superheroes who are fighting to keep our mothership from sinking. If you have any photos or stories from your event, please share them in the comments. You can also email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org (Put your city and country in the subject line, and a short description in the body of the email. You can see full instructions for photo submission here.)
Here's pic of a Climate Superhero I took today at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco...
Bill McKibben at Moving Planet rally in SF, 9/24/11. Photo by Sven Eberlein
and of course the thousands of folks who marched, sang and came together...
|MovingPlanet@Kos is a collaborative action with the Moving Planet team, the Global Campaign for Climate Action, WiserEarth, tcktcktck, the Sierra Club, DeSmogBlog, Ecocity Builders, and Transition US. Together, we are launching a 'package' of educational and inspirational writing and art, rattling the twitterverse in a cooperative social media campaign, and sharing some of the most innovative and extraordinary 9/24 events.
Moving Planet Earthship for updates and links to news and postings; for all Moving Planet diaries visitCoverage@Kos.
Here are my Superheroes...
Imagine an entity so big and powerful that it could conserve tons of energy and make a huge dent in carbon emissions. It might resemble a place you've seen before but wouldn't recognize...
Ecocity San Francisco by Richard Register
And imagine another entity shedding its drab fossil fuel suit, reappearing energized by the sun, clad in solar panels and rooftop gardens. It might look like this:
Ecocity New Orleans by Richard Register
The entities I am talking about are, of course, Cities, and their role in shifting humanity from cheap energy gluttons to living within our ecological means must be nothing short of Super: The time has come for the urban Clark Kent to put on the green cape.
The last 50 years have witnessed a steep worldwide increase in the percentage of population living within cities. Home to over half of the world’s population on only two percent of the earth’s land cover, cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. A recent UN report entitled Cities ignore climate change at their peril warns that urban areas are set to become the battleground in the global effort to curb climate change.
Thinking about cities as the solution to reverse global warming may seem counter-intuitive at first sight. After all, one would deduce that if cities are the largest sources of carbon emissions we would be better served by encouraging a "back to the land" strategy, hence reducing cities' high carbon footprint. However, we all know that thinning out our cities would be the worst thing we could do in regard to climate change. In fact, we already tried that in the suburban experiments of the last half century, which made clear that the further we move apart from each other, the more fossil fuels we have to burn to stay connected.
So why is it that cities and the way in which we live in them hold the key to stopping global warming, and how do we get them to be a bigger part of the climate change conversation?
They say pictures are worth a thousand words...
Suburban Sprawl in Florida:
© Alan Schein Photography/Corbis.
Downtown Freiburg, Germany,
photo: Sven Eberlein
Giants tread lightly
Since the atmosphere doesn't really give a hoot where the extra CO2 associated with our existence is released from, what it really comes down to is per capita carbon footprint. And behold, according to a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development, cities produce surprisingly low carbon emissions per capita, much lower than their countries' national averages. For example, New Yorkers register footprints of 7.1 tons each, less than a third of the US average of 23.92 tons. And that's including all the wasted electricity on Times Square!
It gets even better: According to Richard Register, founder of Ecocity Builders, redesigning cities in balance with nature could reduce their carbon emissions to 1/10 of its current levels. For example, if Washington D.C. were to be redesigned from a sprawling car-centered to a high density public transit and pedestrian based city, its current annual per capita Greenhouse gas emissions of 19.7 tons of CO2 could be reduced to resemble those of Barcelona (3.4 tons) or Rio de Janeiro (2.3 tons). (See chart)
Let that sink in for a second:
A person living in Washington D.C. has 3 times the carbon footprint of a person living in New York City, 6 times the carbon footprint of a person living in Barcelona and almost 10 times the carbon footprint of a person living in Rio de Janeiro.
Supercities to the Rescue
There is huge potential to meet even the most ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases by redesigning inner cities with ecological principles in mind. A city of short distances aided by comprehensive public transit systems, expanded walk- and bike ways, and more mixed use residential/retail infrastructure is the key to reducing the global carbon footprint. While the Washington D.C.'s of the world (a lot of them in the U.S.) have the potential for the most drastic carbon reductions, there is much room for improvement in cities around the globe.
While there was zero mention of cities in the run-up to COP15 there has been much more official activity and acknowledgement since. At COP16 in Cancun, cities and local governments achieved some groundbreaking recognition, including:
- Introducing the Mexico City Pact and carbonn Cities Climate Registry as the global response of local governments to measurable, reportable, verifiable (MRV) climate action
- Recognition of Local Governments (LGs): for the first time, States in Cancun recognize LGs as key governmental stakeholders in global climate change efforts
- Numerous references to local governments in the COP16 Decision on “Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (LCA)” (the LCA text)
- Inclusion of possible city wide programmes in Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) for simplification of Programme of Activites within the scope of further guidance to CDM
The next big
There are other positive developments. During August 22-26, over 1,500 delegates from 70+ countries gathered in beautiful Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at Ecocity World Summit, the 9th International Ecocity Conference. It was by far the biggest summit ever, attended by representatives from around the world, including the UN and World Bank, showing that the pivotal issue of cities' huge role not only in reducing CO2 emissions but dealing with the effects of climate change is gaining traction. It unveiled and further developed The International Ecocity Framework and Standards initiative, a vision for an ecologically restorative human presence on earth as well as a practical methodology for assessing and guiding the achievement of such a vision through the lens of the ecocity.
The big questions of how to evolve a shared vision of sustainable development and chart a pathway away from the gray towards a green economy will be forefront on the world stage at the upcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 4-6, 2012. It is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government. The hope is that the conversation that has begun with various sectors at the United Nations will continue to bring forward the IEFS as a potentially powerful means to focus a vision towards the green economy by bringing clarity and accountability to the all important decisions of what to build.
Updated excerpts from my previously published post, DK Greenroots: Climate Change Superheroes
Earthship Thursday Eve Launching MovingPlanet@KOS
Friday, September 23 ALL TIMES EST
Moving Planet Launch Post 9/22 by boatsie
9 am -11 Enviro Writer: Taking the Reins of the Climate Movement
11-1: Jill Richardson: A Story of Sheep & The Climate Crisis
1-3 Kelly Rigg, Global Campaign for Climate Action, A Tale of Two Cities
3-5: R. Fox: Moving the Planet with Just a Bicycle
5-7 Richard Register, Ecocity Builders, Freeways for Bicycles, as in the Old Days
7-11 Franke James, Environmental Artist, What Can One Person Do, When 6.8 Million are Frying the Planet?
11-1 Ellinorianne: Moving Planet: Transition is Moving Me
Saturday, September 24 ALL TIMES EST
7-9: B Amer: Moving Planet Bangkok
9-11 Bill Mckibben: Yemen This Morning
11-1: Nicole Gheo, Sierra Club: From India to the Heart of Appalacia
1-3: Ulookarmless: Poems for the Trip
3-5: Adam Siegel: Killing or Creating The Future: Solar at two ends of the Mall ...
5-7 rb137: Moving Planet: Fossil Fuels Aren't Cheap
7-9: WarrenS: Variations on a Moving Planet Theme: Two LTEs
9-12 citisven: Liveblog Superheroes: Report In
Sunday wrap ups
Peggy Duvette: WiserEarth, A Wiser 350
Earthship Pick ups throughout day of report ins
Post Carbon Institute (TBD)
Coverage @ Kos