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Diplomacy in Action

Rio+C40: Megacity Mayors Taking Action on Climate Change

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 19, 2012


Good morning. I am the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. It’s an honor to be here among so many mayors from around the world. You are very much on the front lines of sustainable development and reducing climate pollutants.

I’m here representing the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a new global partnership for rapidly scaling up reductions of short-lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon, and HFCs.

These pollutants cause over 30 percent of current global warming, millions of premature deaths worldwide each year, poor air quality, and extensive crop losses.

Since the Coalition’s February launch by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, EPA Administrator Jackson, ministers from five other countries, and the head of UNEP, our Coalition has tripled our membership and we are in the midst of launching a handful of initiatives across the full range of these pollutants.

And working with – and supporting – cities are at the core of our strategy. Urban areas contribute nearly 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, city-driven solutions can quickly reach billions. Quite literally, cities are where the rubber hits the road.

Today we are announcing a groundbreaking partnership……cities, countries, our Coalition, the World Bank, the Global Methane Initiative, and CCI/C-40 are all joining together to reduce climate pollutants from solid waste, the third largest source of man-made methane worldwide.

And remember that methane is a substance 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Moreover, left unaddressed, municipal solid waste is predicted to double by 2025.

We’ll be working with cities to provide an array of common-sense, results-driven technical expertise and capacity building. And our Climate and Clean Air Coalition partner countries like Mexico, Canada, Bangladesh, the United States, Nigeria, and others will cooperate closely. We’ll also be building a knowledge platform of best practices to share with cities around the world.

I am grateful for the tremendous spirit of cooperation we’ve had so far with an initial group of leading cities, and we look forward very much to working with others on this action-oriented, real-world partnership.

Together, we can improve the health of your citizens and make a real dent in global warming around the world. Thank you.

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