Florida cities strategize to end climate disruption

08/14/08 Seán Kinane
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The Florida League of Cities is meeting in Tampa this week. A pre-conference seminar sharing ideas about how cities can help solve global climate change was held this morning at the Tampa Convention Center.

This seminar, Beyond Lightbulbs and Hybrids: Local Government Solutions to Global Climate Change, was co-sponsored by the Florida League of Mayors. Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, said he helped launch an environmental program in 2001 called Salt Lake City Green that had a climate protection component.

Anderson is president of High Road for Human Rights, a group advocating for human rights including reducing climate change. Anderson called climate change the “greatest challenge ever to humankind,” but said there are ways that cities can help to reduce its impact, such as those he implemented in Salt Lake City. “We helped stop the building of a major highway into Salt Lake City.”

That point drew applause from Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern, who took notes on what she called “all kinds of great” ideas from the mayors of other cities, such as using larger recycle bins and reducing the frequency of curbside pick-up.

St. Petersburg was the first green-certified city in Florida. St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker said everyone should be concerned about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Like several of the other mayors, Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said reducing greenhouse gas emissions saved her city thousands of dollars. Hanrahan said that Gainesville has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 322,000 tons since 1996, and she expects even more once the city constructs a 100 megawatt biomass power plant that burns waste wood.

Matt Ward is the policy director of the Climate Communities Coalition. He said local governments are critical to helping to combat climate change.

Steven Feren, the current president of the Florida League of Mayors, is mayor of Sunrise, Fla., encouraged more cities to sign the Green City Action Accord, “Which supports the governor’s energy action team.”

The Florida League of Cities annual conference continues through Saturday at the Tampa Convention Center and the Marriott Waterside.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Florida League of Cities

Florida League of Mayors

High Road for Human Rights

Green City Action Accord

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

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