18th Plenary Session of the Congress
Strasbourg, 18 March 2010
Message from Elizabeth B. KAUTZ, Mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota, President of The United States Conference of Mayors
Debate on "After Copenhagen, cities and regions take up the challenge"
As President of The United States Conference of Mayors, I am very pleased to extend warmest greetings from the mayors of the United States and our CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran to your Esteemed President and all Members of this 18th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, March 17-19, 2010.
To each of you, Honored Colleagues, I wish to express my deepest thanks for the opportunity to provide a statement to you.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities are committed to the same strong goals -- safeguarding local and regional democracy, devolving power to levels of government that best serve our citizens, and advocating for recognition of the important role of local and regional authorities.
Our organization was founded in 1932 in the Great Depression by a small group of mayors to give local leaders across our nation a powerful and unified voice to articulate the needs of mayors and their cities. Our members include Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Our membership consists of mayors of cities of 30,000 population and greater, and, like you, we speak out with a strong voice. Sometimes, as you know, we must not only speak loudly but we must roar like lions.
On behalf of the mayors of the United States, I am especially pleased to offer this statement to you because we share the same vision for our planet and the same strong resolve to raise awareness of the central role that we as local and regional leaders play in climate protection.
Local and regional governments are at the forefront of innovative policy and courageous action. This innovation and action "bubbles up" to state and national government. And sometimes, our advocacy does not just bubble up, but rather bursts forth, leading the way on critical issues and pioneering new territory.
Each of you knows that on February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol took effect in the 141 countries that ratified it, but not in the United States. What you may not be as aware of is that although our national government did not act, mayors across our country did.
The Mayor of Seattle, Washington, Greg Nickels, created a pledge of mayors to sign -- the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, asking mayors to make the same commitment as the nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol -- by 2012 to reduce carbon emissions by seven percent from 1990 levels.
When Mayor Nickels unveiled this commitment pledge on February 16, 2005, there were 141 signatures of U.S. mayors on the document -- one mayor for every nation committed to the Kyoto Protocol. In a sense, the mayors of the United States proudly "signed the Kyoto Treaty."
Today, 1,016 U.S. mayors, representing more than 86 million Americans, have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
Just as you are here, U.S. mayors are taking serious action to mitigate, adapt, and lead in finding solutions to global warming. These include close evaluation of municipal operations, education and outreach to our businesses and citizens, rapid transit planning, and developing specific targets by which to measure the effectiveness of our approaches.
The Conference of Mayors is leading advocacy efforts to persuade the U.S. Congress for resources that cities need for their climate protection efforts.
On the road to Copenhagen, we pushed for heads of state to recognize the importance of mayors in climate protection, and, just as each of you is doing, we will continue to strive for greater recognition of how important regions and cities are in this effort to protect and preserve our planet.
Thank you again for this opportunity to communicate with you. As President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, I congratulate you on the great work that you are doing and wish you much success in this 18th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.