World's mayors tackle climate change on their own

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 14, 2009 -- Copenhagen's lord mayor Ritt Bjerregaard and some 80 other mayors and local officials of USA, Tokyo, Jakarta, Toronto and Hong Kong, have converged on the Danish capital in their own climate and energy summit....

• Cities consume two-thirds of the world's primary energy and produce more than 70 percent of its energy-related CO2 emissions. Five-day "cities summit" opens Monday to find ways for them to become more climate-friendly

By AP/Nanet Poulsen
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 14, 2009 -- Copenhagen's lord mayor Ritt Bjerregaard and some 80 other mayors and local officials of USA, Tokyo, Jakarta, Toronto and Hong Kong, have converged on the Danish capital in their own climate and energy summit.

They'll compare notes on how cities can combat climate change and save money on energy and other costs.

Today's cities and towns consume two-thirds of the world's total primary energy and produce more than 70 percent of its energy-related CO2 emissions, the International Energy Agency reports. That will grow to 76 percent by 2030, the agency says. Most comes from electrifying and heating private, commercial and municipal buildings.

In a report last week, the IEA's executive director, Nabuo Tanaka, said local authorities "have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" through renewable energy and other means. "Yet relatively few are taking up the challenge," he said.

Here in Copenhagen of 1.2 million, Bjerregaard has set ambitious goals.

Copenhagen reduced its CO2 emissions by 20 percent from 1995 to 2005. The lord mayor plans to reduce it by another 20 percent by 2015, and then to become "carbon-neutral," free of fossil fuel for core needs, by 2025.

Rows of scores of bicycles outside buildings are a common sight in Copenhagen where more than the one-third pedal each day to the office or school.

To reach its ultimate goal, the city plans to switch power and heat generation fully from coal to biomass -- 97 percent of the city is linked to the waste heat generated by electricity plants -- will make it easier to convert.

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