Green Cities

Latin American Leaders Discuss Green Cities

Last week, mayors of Latin America’s largest cities sat down in Buenos Aires to discuss what they can do to fight climate change in some of the most populated cities in the world. The leaders came up with five important measures they need to take to mitigate climate change in their cities. Recognize that green alternatives are not bad for the economy. Felipe Calderon, the former president of Mexico noted that renewable energy sources actually offer more economic growth than non-renewables. Calderon also pointed out that the prices of sustainable options are dropping, making them an option that every city should consider.   Cities need to act sooner rather than later. It isn’t enough for cities to just say they’ll make changes down the road; leaders need to start implementing these plans as soon as possible. Cities across the world should follow Mexico City’s example. Mayor Miguel Mancera advocated for a program they recently started that aims to cut pollutant emissions by 30% in the next six years. It is crucial for cities to start programs such as Mexico City’s initiative to mitigate climate change as soon as possible.   Transportation needs to change. Transportation is often the leading culprit of pollutant emissions. In Mexico City, one of the world’s most polluted cities, transportation accounts for about 56% of the city’s emissions. Cities need to encourage their residents to cut down on their car usage and switch to the bus and metro whenever possible.   Cities need to improve their waste management strategies. Landfills are known to emit greenhouse gases, and transporting waste to these facilities further contributes to the problem. Many cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are implementing programs to reduce methane and air pollution caused from their waste systems. Part of this process is to increase recycling by opening more facilities.   Encourage compact cities. Compact cities reduce necessary traveling distances and it would conserve surrounding nature. However, leaders must consider the population of their cities and how feasible this goal is. It is easy to look at a city such as Copenhagen with only two million residents and emulate the city’s walkability, but for a city like Mexico City with around 21 million inhabitants, these goals are much harder to achieve. Latin American cities are still working out the best way to tailor green initiatives to fit their cities’ larger populations. For now, the steps that they have begun to take are the key to a sustainable future in these cities. We look forward to seeing how they expand on these projects in the future. Oonagh Cavanagh, Intern