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Bloomberg: Sustainable Cities are the Key to Combating Climate Change

May 28, 2014 12:46 PM EDT

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a UN diplomat, said Tuesday that cities and their mayors hold the key to confronting climate change.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) event, billionaire businessman Bloomberg discussed how cities could be more sustainable, urging city leaders to act quickly to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from urban environments, Blue & Green Tomorrow reported.

Around 70 percent of the world's population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050 - that's 6.3 billion people. The ECOSOC event aimed to address the importance of making these communities sustainable, economically successful and environmentally friendly.

Appointed on Jan. 31 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the UN special envoy for cities and climate change, Bloomberg advocated that cities take a stand against climate change.

"Those actions will save lives, they'll strengthen and protect the national economies, they'll make cities more healthy and economically vibrant and together they'll make a difference in the global fight against climate change," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Bloomberg noted that cities, in his opinion, are key to combating climate change because they account for 75 percent of the heat-trapping gases in Earth's atmosphere. He congratulated his own achievements in New York, which had a 19 percent reduction in its heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in six years, and the city's cleanest air in 50 years, as a result of measures including eliminating the dirtiest heating oil from buildings and planting 800,000 new trees.

Other cities have had similar results, including London, Lagos and Johannesburg.

Isabelle Picco, vice-president of the General Assembly, told members at the conference that urbanization does not have to add to the problem, Blue & Green Tomorrow reported, but could be a "transformative force" in making the world more eco-friendly.

In October, over 50 mayors from 30 different countries signed a pact pledging to scale up efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

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