City To Hold Climate Congress

Since 2002, Cambridge emissions have risen seventeen percent

An emergency “climate congress” charged with finding solutions to local environmental problems and recommending new government programs will convene in Cambridge Dec. 12.

The congress, which is organized through the mayor’s office, is designed to jump start local action on environmental problems.

In 2002, Cambridge pledged to reduce city-wide emissions 20 percent by 2010. Since then, emissions have increased by at least 17 percent, according to the mayor.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons said the city government needed to do more to “inject environmentally friendly practices” into the community and to “influence more global activities.” Simmons plans to use the Congress’ findings in any suggestions the City makes to the state and federal government, as well as to the global summit on climate change occurring in Copenhagen in June of 2010.

Early in January, world leaders had hoped that the Copenhagen summit would lead to a new climate accord. But climate legislation has lost momentum in Congress. Leaders said this week that no agreement would be reached in Copenhagen.

“Cambridge is very progressive, proactive, and innovative,” said the mayor, adding that she hopes Cambridge will “serve as an example for [other] municipal governments.”

The mayor said she is “particularly excited” about the Congress because “it may plot an agenda that hasn’t been plotted before.”

Katie S. Walter ’10, co-president of the Environmental Action Committee, said she was glad to see local government taking action to combat climate change.

“This is a great opportunity because ...it is cities and mayors that need to take the initiative,” Walter said.

The congress will run throughout the day and is open to 100 community participants. A second session will follow in January.

Applications to participate are due Dec. 1 and are available online. Mayor Simmons said that the climate congress should reflect “the huge diversity that is present in our city.”

“Cambridge does fantastic stuff, and the continuing commitment to environmental issues is very important,” said Jackson S. Salovaara ’11, another member of the EAC, “The municipal level’s actions...[show] what should be done at the state and national levels.”

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