Friday, October 3, 2008

Mayors Action Forum: Environment and Energy, Miami

One of the first things that I did as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors was to launch a series of national mayors action forums to provide the opportunity for my colleagues and I to learn from each other and to develop a strong, clear urban agenda that we will present to the next President of the United States. World scientists have repeatedly warned us about the seriousness and effects of climate change – yet, Washington sleeps while America’s mayors act.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting 22 fellow mayors and several mayors’ representatives to discuss plans for environmental and energy sustainability and to reveal our first-ever Metro Green Jobs Report. For the first time, we can measure green jobs being created in our cities and metropolitan economies, the economic engines that drive the U.S. country. This Green Jobs Index means we can track green jobs that are being created in our metro areas as we move to a carbon-free economy. Moreover, it demonstrates that acting aggressively today will produce enormous and sustainable economic benefits for all Americans. Today, there are 750,000 green jobs throughout the United States and, within the next 30 years, green jobs will account for the fastest growing segment of the American workforce and 4.2 million new jobs.

It was an enriching and focused meeting and we benefited from visiting experts such as Luke Tilley, Senior Economist for the U.S. Regional Service of Global Insight; HM Keith Allen, Consul-General of the United Kingdom; and, of course, President Bill Clinton.

Our conversation raised a number of issues, including emissions trading, setting national reduction targets, local and international cap-and-trade programs, and the development of city climate action plans, like MiPlan. President Clinton reiterated his support for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, a key component of the Mayors’ 10-Point Plan, as a means of developing “islands of success” in cities across America.

This week, my fellow mayors and I will put our ideas and experiences into the development of a new, official U.S. Conference of Mayors urban agenda. It is imperative that the presidential candidates connect with the real struggles and concerns of America’s cities – including the need to protect our natural resources while investing in the economic opportunities that energy self-sufficiency will provide.