Boston will host an international climate summit next summer to discuss with cities across the world how to uphold the principles of the Paris climate agreement, even though President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the environmental effort.
The decision to hold such a summit comes after the plan for Boston to host the third annual U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit unraveled. That decision was made under the Obama administration, but the change in administrations disrupted the planning efforts.
“We got indication from [the Trump administration] that that summit wasn’t going to be a priority for the administration at that time,” said Austin Blackmon, Boston’s chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space.
“So we internally deliberated,” he continued, “and said that upholding the tenets of the Paris agreement are too important for us not to have an international convening to help other cities accelerate their progress toward reducing emissions.”
Boston will be inviting mayors and teams from Chinese cities as well as other countries for the event, set to be in the summer of 2018. Logistic details like the specific date, duration and location of the event have not yet been pinned down, Blackmon said, but Mayor Marty Walsh was eager to get the news out.
Walsh is a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of cities committed to addressing climate change, and will tap that group in the planning process.
Boston has made its own climate change efforts, but the importance of an international summit, Blackmon said, is to explore how cities across the globe can work together to reach big goals.
“When you look globally, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities and over two-thirds of energy use as well as emissions come from those urban areas, so if you’re thinking of a good place to start, cities are an excellent location,” he said.
Cities are also where most actions are implemented because they have funding and power to influence change.
“That’s why Mayor Walsh made very clear that the work we do in Boston is important," Blackmon said, "but it’s important for us to also work with international cities, to learn from their best practices, give our best practices, learn from their mistakes and share ours as well.
"We recognize that upholding the tenets of the Paris agreement is something that’s important not just to residents of Boston, of Massachusetts, of the United States, but globally," he added.