Montreal will reduce its carbon emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 and is ready to go even farther, Mayor Valérie Plante announced Monday in a speech to the United Nations Summit on Climate Change.
Valerie Plante says Montreal will reduce carbon emissions by 55 per cent by 2030
Cities are on the front lines of the climate crisis and their actions will have the greatest impact in reducing greenhouse gases, she said in an impassioned address to the international forum.
Speaking during a panel on the theme of reducing carbon dependence, Plante was one of only three municipal representatives to address the prestigious forum, along with the mayors of Copenhagen and Surabaya in Java. The panel included United States Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
If there is one thing you need to remember from my speech today, it is that cities are already taking action by working actively to fight climate change, but we need to do much more, she said.
Cities need the support of governments and the cooperation of the private sector if they are to achieve their goal of carbon neutrality, Plante said.
And she vowed that Montreal would take a leadership role, committing to reduce carbon emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, which Plante called an ambitious but reachable goal.
While the UN has set targets calling for a 45-per-cent reduction in carbon emissions for national governments by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050, Montreal is among cities aiming to meet or surpass those goals, she said
Plante said reaching those goals will require such actions as reducing the use of cars for solo trips, increasing active transport and making buildings carbon neutral.
Its a goal that is very ambitious, she said, pausing to thank the audience for its applause, but we know the recipe. We know exactly what must be done and cities know it. They know, for example, that we have to reduce the use of private cars and increase active transportation.
The Montreal mayor noted that associations representing cities around the world like ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Global Covenant of Mayors have been on the forefront of developing solutions on climate change like improved public transportation, sustainable buildings and investment in green space.
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Montreal, which has announced a ban on the use of oil and gas heaters by 2030, aims to make its buildings carbon-free by 2050, Plante noted.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says two-thirds of the worlds population will live in urban centres by 2050, putting cities at the forefront of the climate fight.
Another solution is increasing green space in cities, she said, pointing to her decision to cancel a major housing project to create Canadas largest urban park on the West Island.
The fight against climate change must also take into account the interests of First Nations, the impact of climate change on international migration and the needs of the most vulnerable members of society, she added.
Hopefully, our discussions here will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy, Bloomberg said, prompting widespread applause.
Plante says two-thirds of the worlds population will live in urban centres by 2050, putting cities at the forefront of the climate fight.
He said phasing out coal was the single most important way to flight climate change and noted that more than half of the coal plants in the U.S. have closed since 2011.
On Friday, Plante will receive environmental activist Greta Thunberg at city hall after a massive climate march.
Thunberg preceded Plante on the podium at the UN Summit, imploring world leaders to stop paying lip service to the fight against climate change and to take meaningful action.
My message is that well be watching you, Thunberg said, accusing decision-makers of having stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at the summits opening session.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said that cities are on the front lines in the fight against climate change in her address to the United Nations today.
Plante spoke on behalf of cities at the UN Climate Action Summit as part of a panel called Plans for a Carbon Neutral World.
"By 2050, two-thirds of the global population will live in urban centres," Plante told the United Nations.
She said that many cities, including Montreal, are on their way to meeting their 2030 target of reducing carbon emissions by 45 per cent and being carbon neutral by 2050.
"Some cities, such as Montreal, are going further," said Plante, who said Montreal's goal is to reduce emissions by 55 per cent over the next 10 years.
She said cities are working to reduce citizens' reliance on driving solo in personal vehicles, boost the use of public transport and encourage the construction of carbon-neutral buildings.
Plante also brought up her administration's decision to block a residential development in Montreal's West Island, where the city plans to create its Great Western Park.
She addressed the leaders of Germany, New Zealand and India as well as the secretary general of the United Nations.
Plante's visit to the UN comes as Montrealers prepare to come out in force in a march calling for concrete action on global warming on Friday.
Climate researcher Caroline Rouillette, who works for Équiterre, said her organization is happy to learn of Plante's emissions reduction goal, although it is ambitious.
"It's feasible, and it's also necessary in the context of the climate emergency," said Rouillette.
Plante's plan targets two major policy areas: transport and buildings. In terms of transport, Rouillette says it's necessary to reduce Montrealers' dependence on driving solo in vehicles and increase active transport.
"For example, increasing the number of bike lanes, which by the same token reduces the number of parking spots," Rouillette said.
Without knowing concretely which policies will be put in place, Rouilette said, it's difficult to know whether they will be ambitious enough to reach Plante's target emissions reductions. Still, she said, Plante's announcement is a positive step.
"What the mayor is doing is showing the necessary political leadership that will drive change forward," she said.
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