NEW YORK—Former President Bill Clinton joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday at Gracie Mansion to announce the merger of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the Cities Program of Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).
“Two organizations that stand shoulder to shoulder in the worldwide struggle to combat climate change, today has reached a defining moment for their work. These two organizations will effectively become as one with a unified central management structure,” said Bloomberg.
C40 is a global coalition of large cities that cooperate to address energy and climate change issues. C40 was established in 2006; Mayor Bloomberg is the current chairman.
CCI is a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation established by President Clinton to reduce poverty, promote health, bolster economies, and protect the environment.
The belief that cities play a driving force in addressing climate change motivated the merger decision, stated both Clinton and Bloomberg.
The merger streamlines and enhances the work of the two organizations that share a common mission in mobilizing cities to tackle climate change.
“It is clear that cities are on the forefront of both causes and effect of climate change and that is only going to increase as the world’s population becomes more urban,” said Bloomberg.
The reorganization clarifies and strengthens relations between the two global organizations.
“We really have a chance here to make a difference because we are going to merge our efforts and do it in a sustained way,” said Clinton.
The C40-CCI partnership enhances the new organization’s resources and infrastructure and boosts its efforts to play a prominent role in global climate change matters.
“Together we are proving it is possible to create jobs and grow economies through reduced emissions. By combining forces with the C40, I believe the CCI Cities Program can continue to expand this work and make an even greater impact,” said Clinton.
The outcome for the C40 is three-fold. C40 will increase the number of participating cities, double its budget, and restructure the organization so that cities can share best practices more effectively and undertake climate change issues together.
“The cities consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and produce 80 percent of its greenhouse gases. Cities around the globe must lead the change in addressing climate change,” said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg provided examples of different climate change initiatives in global cities such as Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Hong Kong, London, and included New York City’s efforts to combat climate change.
“In the case of New York City, unlike almost any other cities of the world, 80 percent of our greenhouse gases comes from buildings and only 20 percent comes from transportation, exactly the reverse of other cities,” said Bloomberg.
Times Square Air, A Little Cleaner
To coincide with the C40-CCI merger announcement, Bloomberg released the results of the NYC Department of Health’s latest air quality study that indicated the effect of traffic on air pollution.
The highlight of the findings from the NYC Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) indicated that air in Times Square is cleaner and healthier since the creation of a pedestrian plaza.
“We expected that by reducing the numbers of vehicles in and around Times Square, we would also improve the area’s air quality, and that’s exactly what the numbers now show,” said Bloomberg.
NYCCAS is one of the many PlaNYC programs put in place to improve air quality in the city. PlaNYC outlines Bloomberg’s vision for a greater, greener New York City.
Jointly implemented in 2008 by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the City University of New York’s Center for Biology of Natural Systems, the study collected air samples at 150 city locations during each of the four seasons.
“Air pollution that we all breathe irritates our lungs, worsens asthma and other respiratory diseases, and increases the risks of dying from heart disease,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, NYC Health Commissioner.
There are big differences in air pollution in New York City in different areas of the city, according to findings from the study.
“We have highest pollution in the areas where there is heaviest traffic and the most number of building boilers that are burning dirty fuels,” said Farley.
Data from the NYCCAS report indicated that concentrations of nitrogen oxide (NO) decreased by 63 percent, while nitrogen dioxide (NO2) diminished by 41 percent in Times Square.
“We estimated that each year the city is responsible for 3,200 premature deaths, 2,000 hospitalizations for respiratory conditions or heart disease, and 6,000 emergency visits for asthma,” said Farley.