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414 Cities Take Action Against Climate Change

Climate

It's no secret that tackling the global climate change issue will take lots of dedication at the local level in nations all over the planet.

It's a long haul, but a November report discussed at the ongoing United Nations Warsaw 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) on climate shows that 414 cities made 4,000 actions to do their part in battling climate change by 2020. Some of those goals are completed, and 63 percent of the reduction commitments are above 1 percent per year.

To Yunus Arikan, advocacy head for ICLEI, data in the carbonn Cities Climate Registry's (cCCR) report shows that these cities have raised the global level of ambition with proposals that could lead to a global emissions deal in 2015 when COP 21 takes place in Paris, France. More than half of those actions were funded by the municipalities' own resources.

“Cities are ambitious and are actively delivering climate actions that the world can count on,” Arikan said.

Graphic credit: carbonn Cities Climate Registry

Vancouver, Canada topped the list for its comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy and work on providing more green jobs, eco-friendly modes of transport and urban food security. The city was also named Vancouver was named the 2013 Earth Hour Capital in March. By 2020, the city wants all of its new buildings to be carbon-neutral; residents to make of their trips by foot, bicycle or public transportation; and the number of green jobs to double.

The report also singled out Buenos Aires, Argentina for ensuring transparency as it pursues lower emissions. The cCSR lauded city's building code, which produced a 40 percent efficiency improvement in governmental buildings.

Copenhagen, Denmark officials have also issued a challenge to become a carbon-neutral city by 2030 by enforcing energy certification policies, more green building and reducing emissions.

The 414 cities—with a combined population of about 438 million—increased their climate and energy commitments by nearly 300 in the past year. That's a positive development since their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) increased by nearly 50 percent in the same time frame.

Table credit: carbonn Cities Climate Registry

“Cities like Oslo [Norway], [Finland], Stockholm [Sweden] and Copenhagen can serve as role models for how local authorities can accelerate the transition towards low-carbon and resilient development,” ICLEI President David Cadman said. “This is the moment in Warsaw to get a really serious timetable and structure to get a really meaningful agreement in Paris”

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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