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Houston takes lead with climate plan

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Houston takes lead with climate plan

Houston Chronicle – September 22 – by Matthew Tresaugue


Mayor Annise Parker briefly took center stage Monday in the campaign against climate change by pledging to make America's energy capital a laboratory for experimentation and action.


Frustrated with the congressional response to global warming, Parker and the mayors of Los Angeles and Philadelphia vowed to set more aggressive targets for reducing their cities' heat-trapping pollution while challenging others to do the same.


"Mayors are uniquely compelled and equipped to lead on the fight to stem climate change, as well as to adapt to it and prepare for the impacts of global warming," Parker said after the mayors unveiled their agenda in New York, where world leaders were gathering for a United Nations summit meeting on climate change.


The mayors, all Democrats, stepped forward as the Obama administration faces Republican opposition to its efforts to tackle climate change, notably new rules that would slash emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution.


Kate Zerrenner, a climate policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the mayors see themselves on the front lines as global warming touches every part of the United States, with more severe droughts, worsening forest fires and coasts increasingly vulnerable to rising seas and storms.

"They have found that they have to do something instead of wait," she said.


Houston has impact

Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are well-positioned to be leaders because of their size and big industries. If three of the nation's largest cities can clamp down on their releases of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases, then "it's more impactful," Zerrenner said.


The climate agenda isn't the first time America's mayors have tried to tackle the issue. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in 2005 pledged to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to control global warming, and more than 1,000 cities eventually agreed to follow him. Some cities promoted mass transit and made buildings more energy-efficient, while others lost interest because of sagging economies or changing leadership.




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