Fifty mayors from around world sign environmental accord

Marking the culmination of World Environment Day festivities in San Francisco, 50 mayors from cities the world over yesterday signed a set of environmental accords some are calling a “municipal Kyoto.” Among the 21 commitments therein are increasing clean-energy use, reducing waste sent to landfills, adding affordable public transportation, planting trees, and of course, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Action by urban centers is vital, says David Cadman, deputy mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia: “Cities now cover 2 percent of the world’s surface, but they accommodate 50 percent of the world’s population and consume 75 percent of its resources.” In a separate effort organized by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, 158 U.S. mayors have agreed to help fight global warming in their cities — all part of a general trend toward the local in addressing climate change. Says Pietro Nivola of the Brookings Institution, “Very often that is the way policy works: When enough major states take action, then eventually the central government follows.”